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This article is out of date.  For info good in 2018 go to TV Info.

Begins with Round 19 for USA and Canada

For the first time since 1997, the Australian Football League will be on an ESPN network in North America.  Following the demise of the sport on Setanta, the AFL has struck a deal for live coverage on ESPN360 of 3 matches per round (weekly) now and beginning in 2010, additional coverage of at least four matches per season (year) on ESPN2.  Canadian fans will get one match per week (delayed) on TSN and repeats on TSN2. 

AFANA worked closely with the AFL and the networks to support this unprecedented mid-season change.  Coverage of the Grand Final will be on ESPN2 through 2011 and we are informed it will be live. Given ESPN's baseball contracts, we remain concerned about this.  We do not know what the Grand Final situation on TSN will be for Canada.  Unlike Setanta, this coverage will not require a subscription fee from fans.  ESPN2 is in over 80% of US homes but aside from the Grand Final it will not have coverage until next season.  ESPN360 is the "broadband" channel of ESPN and delivered by computer and it will carry matches live.  This service may prove superior for some fans to the existing service on Aussie Sport TV (the Telstra/Big Pond/afl.com.au service by another name).  Please note:  ESPN360 will not cover all 8 AFL matches each week so you will still need to subscribe to Aussie Sport TV if you wish to get every match on a delayed basis.  For those fans without ESPN360, coverage will be limited unless they have MHz Worldview or America One.

As AFANA gets more details, we will post that information on our TV Info and TV schedules pages.  AFANA will be revising our TV schedules page as soon as possible with new schedules from ESPN, and TSN, as well as MHz and America One.  For the first week or two, there may be some lag time as AFANA, the AFL, ESPN, and TSN work out the schedule logistics.  Those pages will be revised to reflect this new coverage so please be patient while we "catch up".  As always, AFANA will remain your one stop location to get all AFL TV coverage information and schedules for the USA and Canada. 

Delayed free to air coverage of one match per week will continue by MHz Networks and America One. Together, MHz Networks and America One reach over half of the TV markets in North America.  (See our TV Info for details on MHz and America One and to find out if your city or town has this free coverage.)  MHz has agreed to continue as an AFL broadcaster through the 2011 season.   They will carry the Grand Final on a 48 hour delayed basis.   (Ed. note:  America One will also continue and AFL matches through America One are shown on MSG+, available nationally as DirecTV ch. 635.)

Fans who watch coverage on ESPN360 may wish to register for an account at the ESPN web site in order to take full advantage of the coverage.   You will also need to insure your browser and computer can support the service.  To determine if your computer works with ESPN360 go to:  ESPN360 System Requirements.  There are also links there to install the "Move Player" add-in required for most browsers.   (Ed. note: ESPN360 does not support all internet providers and if your ISP is not signed up this will impede your access.  Please see the comments below for hints on what other fans have done. A list of providers for ESPN360 is here.) (Ed. note: (8/21/09) Matches on ESPN360 will be available for replay for only 48 hours following the starting time of the match.) (Ed. note: 5/2010: With the change to ESPN3, the service no longer requires the Move Player and now uses Adobe Flash.  Flash must be installed on your computer.)

AFANA Interim Co-Chairman Kimber Smith has a statement here on the situation.   Also, see her comment below.  (Ed. note:  Coverage on Setanta ended because of Setanta's financial difficulty.  The AFL did not take their carriage rights away and the loss of coverage on Setanta could not have been stopped.) 
Read the former Chairman's blog post on how we got to this point:  The ESPN Deal And History

The press release from the AFL states:   

"ESPN and the Australian Football League (AFL) have reached a multiyear rights deal for live multi-platform coverage in the United States and Canada. The agreement brings fans in the U.S. and Canada access to up to three live matches in each round of the home and away season for the remainder of this season and through the end of 2011. It also includes a number of Finals Series matches, including the 2009 Toyota AFL Grand Final from the Melbourne Cricket Ground in September.

In the United States, matches will be streamed live on ESPN360.com, ESPN’s signature live sports broadband network, as well as select AFL matches – including the Grand Final - being televised on ESPN2. In Canada, TSN or TSN2 will televise at least one live or delayed match per week.

The AFL’s agreement with ESPN in the U.S. and Canada follows last week’s confirmation that the league had secured ESPN as its broadcast rights partner in the UK and Ireland. ESPN also delivers the AFL to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean region.

AFL Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan said, “We are extremely pleased that ESPN will be working with us in the United States and Canada. They are a global leader in multimedia sports entertainment and the collaboration will ensure our expanding supporter base in the U.S. and Canada enjoy the highest standards in live AFL broadcast coverage going forward.

McLachlan also said the shift towards digital media coverage reflected the growing demand from sports consumers around the globe for live online content: “ESPN360.com has quickly become an online destination of choice for American sports fans and we are delighted that AFL will have a strong presence on the platform.”

Added Tim Bunnell, senior vice president of programming, ESPN International, “AFL presents a great opportunity for us as a company and is in line with our commitment to covering the world sports scene through our media platforms. The AFL and ESPN have a long relationship, stretching back to the early years of our company. We look forward to bringing the excitement and passion of Australian football back to fans in North America.”

Coverage will begin Friday, August 7 live in the U.S. and on delay Saturday, August 8 in Canada, with the Round 19 clash between finals aspirants Carlton and Geelong from the MCG.

ESPN – AFL United States and Canada Rights Deal Coverage Summary

United States
• Live streaming coverage of three matches per round and finals matches on ESPN360.com.
• At least four matches per regular season in 2010 and 2011 and both Grand Finals live.
• Live coverage of the 2009 Grand Final on ESPN2.

Canada
• At least one match per week live or delayed on TSN or TSN2
."

(Disclaimer:  AFANA is paid a commission on all subscriptions to Aussie Sport TV made through our links. )

Article last changed on Monday, August 20, 2018 - 4:24 PM EDT


Comments

Posted by admincms on August 16, 2009

Hi HelenO,

Getting Grand Final tickets is analogous to trying to get Super Bowl tickets.  There are very few available to the public and often members of the competing clubs get shut out in large numbers.  The game is now a "corporate" event and the public is mostly an afterthought.  

Your best bet is to go through a travel agency.   There a number that have "Grand Final packages" including tickets, accommodation, etc, but they vary widely and there a few where you get tickets and a meal only, etc.   Contact Michele Garval, fbtravel[at)afana[ dot }com and she can forward information to you.  You should also contact the AFL Travel agency.   Good luck. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2009

Do you have any updates on whether the finals will be broadcast live in Canada? Unfortunately, one delayed game a week through TSN in Canada is pretty poor compared to what we had through Setanta. Is there anyway to view ESPN in Canada?
Posted by admincms on August 18, 2009

We are waiting to hear from the AFL and TSN regarding the Grand Final.  As soon as we have confirmation, we will add it to our TV schedule page. 

We agree that one delayed game per week is inadequate for Canadian fans.   It's an issue we will talk to the AFL and TSN about, particularly for 2010 and 2011.  What I will say is that the same analysis we've posted here regarding US coverage applies to Canadian coverage when discussing Setanta.  The same financial issues apply and the same issues regarding fan support apply just on a smaller scale.  As fans, we did not support Setanta Canada as we should have and that made us an easy target for cost cutting when the financial strain became significant. 

At this time, I know of no legal way to watch the ESPN coverage in Canada.  We'd like to see the TSN web site make matches available the same we ESPN360 does and that is another issue for discussion with the AFL and TSN. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Steve, E-town (not verified) on August 19, 2009

Rob, As a devoted afl fan in Canada I am very discouraged to see that Setanta sports gave up on its afl coverage with no warning, mid way through a season. I had no problem with paying the price to get 2 games a week. Now that TSN has taken over, since round 19 we've had 1 delayed game played. There have been no games since and it doesn't look as if they'll be playing any this weekend. Will TSN be into this agreement whole heartedly or is it a time filler for them on an early sunday morning?
Posted by admincms on August 19, 2009

Hi Steve,

Even if Setanta had given us direct warning, it would not have altered anything.  In any case, AFANA did sound the warning through 5 articles on the front page of this site over several months.  I personally warned fans that the coverage could go away at any time and very few commented or e-mailed or even seemed to notice. 

As for TSN, we receive weekly schedule information from the AFL for all international broadcasters including TSN.   Normally, we do not depend on that and prefer to get the information direct from the network ourselves.  So far, that has proven difficult to arrange but we continue to work on getting that done.  The AFL information indicates that TSN is telling the the AFL they will air a match.   Why that is not happening, we don't know and we are seeking clarification.  We hope it is simply technical details that have not been fully ironed out.  The AFL has been told that Collingwood v Sydney will air at 3:30 AM EDT on Monday.  Please let us know if that takes place. We'll post more when we know more.  

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Rob (not verified) on August 20, 2009

As a Canadian who subscribed to Setanta, I'm very disappointed in the lack of matches now available to Canadians. I do subscribe to Aussie Sport TV so I am able to watch the recorded matches. However, Aussie Sport TV does need some drastic improvements to bring the service up to the appropriate standards. Why does AFL cut out the pre-game commentary and half-time interviews when these matches are uploaded? I've only been following the game since 2006 and these commentaries and interviews are helping me to learn the nuances. I love watching the teams run through the banners and then watch the winning team sing their fight song at the end. These are unique flavours of the Aussie game that are lost when matches are uploaded in an edited format. As well, the delay between the time the match is played and the time that it's uploaded to Aussie Sport TV is very frustrating. This will be a real issue for the finals, especially for the first week, when I will hope to watch all 4 mtaches. Can some work be done with the AFL to resolve these two issues? In terms of TV broadcasts in Canada, TSN's one taped match per week is simply inadequate. Would it not be possible to have some sort of Pay Per View service with the Canadian Cable outlets for the remainder of the season so that we're able to watch the entire finals series? In Canada (an I'm assuming the United States) you can subscribe to NFL Prime Ticket and NHL Centre Ice. I'm told that both of these subscriptions are available in Australia as well. Why can't a similar service be available for the AFL in Canada.
Posted by admincms on August 20, 2009

Hi Rob,

Let me see if I can address all of your points.   Yes, Aussie Sport TV has deficiencies and we have been continually working with the AFL.  Matches are not posted in the timely manner that is expected.  AFANA has forwarded complaints about this to the AFL several times this season already.   I can't say for sure where the problem lies; whether it is with the Australian networks, Telstra, or with Aussie Sport TV or all of them at various times.  We've made the AFL very aware of it though.  The loss of pre-game and half-time commentary is likely because that is the property of the Australian networks and not only the AFL.  It would require permission to include and it may be that was not part of the Aussie Sport TV deal.  (Telstra can't sub-license the commentary as they can with the match itself.).  I would not expect that to change this season but we'll take note for our next submission to the AFL. 

I think AFANA would agree (as I've noted elsewhere) that the TSN coverage is inadequate.  However, given the circumstances the AFL was in, it was probably all they were offered by TSN at the time.  AFANA will be pushing the AFL and TSN to do better next season.  Whether than happens, I can't say.  I'll just tell you that AFANA sees it as a high priority.  Setanta Canada was subscription.  Even at that price point ($14.99/mo), it appears many fans thought it was too expensive and wouldn't pay for it.  Therefore, the cost of a pay per view package is probably going to be a hard sell to the AFL and Canadian networks.  I'd love to see that as an option for fans everywhere in North America.  AFANA tried to put together a package like that ourselves twice in the late 90's and early 00's and we couldn't get enough people to express interest to get it off the ground.  Fans wouldn't commit to paying the annual fee it would have required so it appears you are a minority on that one.  An alternative might be a TSN online option similar to ESPN360 but with all matches available each week. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Rob (not verified) on August 26, 2009

I watched the TSN broadcast of Sydney v. Collingwood on Monday and with one exception was quite impressed. First of all, the broadcast was in HD - 1080. Second, the broadcast included the pre-game analysis, half time analysis, post game interviews and even the fight song in the locker room. Further, as the 150 minute time slot wasn't up, highlights of North Melbourne v. St. Kilda were shown. The broadcast did have a few extra commercials, however the game was "paused" while the commercials were shown and the commercial inserts were placed at boundary throw ins. The one aspect that was problematic was that 12 minutes of the 2nd quarter was skipped. Judging by the score before and after the skip I can see that now much was missed and I can also understand why this portion of the game was edited out. However, I would be concerned if in future broadcasts to fit the game into 150 minutes, a half quarter were to be skipped. Setanta always was able to fit a whole game into 150 minutes. As much as I like the post game, perhaps it could be chopped down a bit instead of losing game-time. In any event, overall I'd give TSN's attempt a good score. I also noticed that on TSN.ca, an additional game was available for viewing in its entirety - Richmond v. Hawthorne. The game was only up for a day. Since I didn't check until Monday, it is possible that other games were up earlier and deleted. It may be that TSN's broadband is going to put up games like ESPN360?

A fan who wishes to remain anonymous, for reasons that I understand, has submitted by e-mail the following review of the coverage on TSN during the first week of the finals.  (I personally vouch that this is authentic and we are publishing it with permission):

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

--------------
A quick report on the coverage of Finals Week 1, live on TSN2 in Canada - in case no one from up north has told you how this panned out.

I wasn't actually here to watch it live, but have just finished watching it on delay off the DVR. Geelong vs Western Bulldogs was the match shown.

Scheduled timing was 12.30am - 3.30am EDT.

Assuming my DVR started when I think it did, coverage began 20 mins. late due to over-run of live US Open tennis coverage on TSN2. As a tennis fan too, I know such coverage can sometimes overrun by 1-2 hours, so I figured 20 mins. was a good result.

As it was, TSN2 was showing a full 30 mins of pre-game coverage, so no match coverage was lost. We still saw the teams run out, anthems, last minute comments by boundary commentators before the match began at exactly 1am EDT (if the DVR timing can be relied on.... I thought this was later than the advertized start time for the game)

TSN2's dealing with the live coverage was excellent (in comparison to Fox and even Setanta in the early days). They never inserted a commercial break anywhere over live coverage - only during commercial breaks from Australia. There was never a commercial break during any of the 4 quarters of play. At 1/4 and 3/4 time, there was a single 2-min commercial break before returning for boundary-rider comments before the game restarted. Half time featured the usual number of commercial breaks and comments/anaylsis. Once the game finished, coverage ran on for another 25 minutes, including all after match interviews with players and coaches, and further analysis. The after match coverage included references to Australian coverage of the Carlton v Brisbane match coming up later that night in Australia, which did not apply to Canada. However, I'd rather they show this than try to blank it out.

In all, the coverage would have run a full 3.5 hours, were it not for the 20 min tennis over-run at the start.

A late report by the same individual with a more critical analysis of TSN coverage:
-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

----------------

Anyway - I wanted to update you on TSN coverage of StK vs. WB last week. Less good things to say there also. The timeslot was 3.30pm - 6pm EDT on TSN, and repeated on TSN2 two hours later. 2.5 hours is tough to fit a game in - and so it proved for TSN. Each of the first 3 quarters had two commercial breaks inserted. In addition, after each of these breaks, the game clock had moved on 1.5 - 3.5 minutes from where it was when the commercials cut in. Only one behind was scored during all the missing periods of play, but in a game so close and tight, that's missing the point. The breaks were also inserted at strange times. Only one occurred after a goal had been scored. Others were after a behind was scored. More were inserted either when the ball went out of bounds before a boundary throw-in, or even in one case after the umpire stopped play to call for a bounce (which we never saw). Fortunately, they showed some appreciation for the game in the final 1/4 - only one commercial break here, and no time lost from the game coverage. Aside from the above, we got about 5-6 mins. of pre-game and a commercial break before it started, and 10 mins. of post-game, this also included a commercial break. I guess you take the good of a convenient timeslot with the bad of the fact that they can sell much more advertizing at those times than 3am! Oh well - hopefully the GF will go smoothly - although if ESPN is producing it they won’t have the 'experience" to go with TSN's folks from the last few weeks. However - I'll keep my fingers crossed - esp. if I decide to watch the shortened version on TSN2. 

Posted by Rob (not verified) on September 29, 2009

In relation to the Grand Final, TSN did a great job. TSN handled the live broadcast really well. No play was lost to commercial breaks. In fact, TSN inserted breaks at exactly the same time as the Australian broadcast (I know because I had the Australian broadcast streaming on my laptop as well). The broadcast was scheduled for 3 hours but TSN ran an extra 1/2 hour so as to not cut off the presentation of the cup, the Norm Smith medal, or the speeches. This is a big improvement from some of the previous attempts by TSN in the earlier rounds where extra breaks were inserted in the middle of play and several minutes each quarter was missed. For next year, TSN should look at allowing 3 hours for a game which would allow their extra commercials without missing play. Alternatively, TSN could insert 30 second commercial breaks immediately upon a goal being scored. When I've been in Australia, local broadcasters often insert breaks at this point and no actual game time is lost. Perhaps TSN could work with the AFL to learn how and when to insert breaks.
Posted by Chris (not verified) on August 31, 2009

Hi, Has there been any confirmation yet on whether the 2009 AFL Grand Final will be on ESPN2 in the US, and more imporantly, will it definitely be live? I'm trying to organise an AFL Grand Final party for my American mates... to show them what all the fuss is about! Haha. Thanks, Chris.
Posted by admincms on August 31, 2009

Hi Chris,

First, please do not repeatedly post the same message.  This succeeded in getting you labeled as a spammer.  Probably not what you wanted.   Second, and this applies to all visitors here:  anonymous posters (not logged in!) have all submissions go into moderation for review (and you get a screen message to that effect after you post!).  This is easy to avoid.  Register at this site, confirm your registration and log in.  Any post made by a registered user who is currently logged in appears immediately.  Easy. 

Now to your question:  We are in discussions with the AFL and by extension, ESPN on the Grand Final.  We have previously been told that the Grand Final would be live on ESPN2.  We have no hard information to the contrary.  However, we are seeking definitive confirmation and when we have it, we will add the GF to our TV schedules.  Until we do that, you can assume we do not have satisfactory confirmation.  (Trust me, AFANA has no reason to withhold this sort of information.  It just makes our job harder as we answer endless queries just like this one.).  Once we have a start time for the broadcast and an end time, it will appear on our schedules.  You can tattoo that promise on your least favorite appendage. 

Cheers,

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Chris (not verified) on August 31, 2009

Thanks Rob for the quick response. I wasn't sure how readily updated this website was, but you've confirmed that the answer is "frequently". So I guess I simply will plan my party on the assumption that everything is going ahead as hoped! I'll check back for the update to the Calendar throughout this month. Apologies for the multiple posts - my computer was freezing on me during the comment posting stage and i never saw any sort of confirmation, so i assumed my posts weren't going through. I'll register now as well. Thanks again, Chris.
Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 15, 2009

Can anyone give me firm information on whether espn360 is going to show the cats v pies game this weekend?? It lists AFL live at 5:30am sat but than it lists the saints games after it!?!?!? any help would be great.

Hi Tim,

At this point, it appears the only ways to get that match are Aussie Sport TV, the new omnisport.tv service we will have info on later today, and internet radio in North America. However, from what we can learn this wasn’t the AFL’s fault. ESPN and TSN are obligated (contractually) to take one game only. Originally, that was going to be the Geelong v Collingwood game. Then they switched to the other match. From the info we had last week, we interpreted the schedules to mean  both games but apparently that was not the case. Therefore, the fault is on ESPN (since TSN takes their initial cue from ESPN). The AFL just, coincidentally, had omnisport.tv coming on line this weekend. That has been in the works for weeks however, we couldn’t talk about it since it wasn’t nailed down. This was not an "AFL" screw-up or plot to charge you for the game, just fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your point of view) coincidence.

Once again, this is fallout from the contracts the AFL had to negotiate in a very short time back in mid-August. To that extent, it was their responsibility but honestly, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a better deal had I been doing the negotiating. I’m hopeful these issues can be ironed out before the 2010 season.

AFANA would prefer to see both matches available, but there is little to be done here except complain to ESPN and TSN.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Sean (not verified) on September 16, 2009

Re: Collingwood vs Geelong Assuming seats at the MCG are not sold out yet, you can't discount the AFL's motivation to hold off the release of the game to ESPN360 prior to reaching a threshold/selling out the MCG. Why would the AFL, Collingwood and Geelong want to make their game available on what is probably the best broadband system FOR FREE when they need to fill up the seats? They all share in the seat revenue. So they will wait until they get the threshold level, which is liekly to happen. There were over 90K in last year's prelim. ESPN360 has a blank spot now where last Sunday they had both games scheduled. In the near future, once seats are sold, the game will likely be available on ESPN360.

Hi Sean,

No, don't count on it appearing.  Yes, I do discount that the sellout / non-sellout situation had anything to do with this.  This was, plain and simple, a programming decision by ESPN.  How about the theory that ESPN simply wanted the game involving the top of the ladder club?  There is no evidence of any conspiracy by the AFL to withhold the game.  ESPN360 is not easily available (due to geo-blocking) in Australia and unless you have lots of spare cash you aren't going to drop everything, buy a game ticket and a plane ticket and fly to Australia to see it.  Whether the game sells out isn't going to be affected by which game ESPN chooses nor is ESPN's choice going to be affected by the ticket sales.  The game will not magically appear on ESPN360's schedule at the last minute if there is a sellout.  I'd like to persuade ESPN and TSN to take both games but don't hold your breath.

I know that some readers here are looking for AFL conspiracies behind everything.  Sorry folks, they simply aren't present here.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Gidday Rob,

    New member and first off thanks for all your efforts in keeping this site up and running.

   Much appreciated mate.

   One question reon the live stream Aussie Tv sport for the Cats v Magpies game.

   I clicked on the site and got to step 2 and saw the disclaimer for all the countries not able to recieve tjhe live stream. Buried in the middle tof the list was USA.  Am I right in saying it does not work anywhere in the States ?  I fnd this strange given the size of the market !!  In fact from all the countries listed it would probably be easier to list teh Countries WHERE it is available.

  So Rob before I spend my hard earned (ahem) US $ could you verify that it is NOT available in the States.Any information much appreciated.

Thanks Rob

Mike in dc

Hi Mike,

(Update:  ASTV sent us the following announcement: 

It's down to the Preliminary Finals...who will make it to the Grand Final on 26th September?

As a fan of AFL, you'll be pleased to learn you can watch Collingwood vs. Geelong

Exclusively LIVE online with our friends Omnisport.tv!

So if you're in the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland or Europe for just $5.99USD, you can catch all the action from the Pies vs. the Cats, live and direct from your computer.)

This might just ASTV sending you to Omnisport.tv but I haven't tried the signup links for this live offer. 

Aussie Sport TV usually carries video on a 12-24 delay (or longer as it seems they don't always get the matches posted in a timely basis).   They haven't done live for the USA / Canada but they carry every AFL match (or that's the promise).  Just this week, the AFL has launched a second source for live video online for the USA (& Canada, UK, etc). (The first source being ESPN360).  The new source would be Omnisport.tv.  They, like ESPN360, will have it live and for a short time after (48 hrs max) but may not for future on-demand beyond 48 hours or have all matches. 

The trade there is:  want it live (then either ESPN360 or Omnisport.tv depending on the match); if on-demand after the first day or two, then ASTV.  We will be posting word on Omnisport.tv today.   As for this offer, all I can say is try it and let us know.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

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