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Editorial and commentary from the Chairman of AFANA.

Australian Football on US Television in 2016 and the Future

(This is the first in a series of long form editorials on the state of footy on TV in 2016 and the future outlook.) A long time ago in TV world far, far away, a small group of passionate AFL fans managed to get the AFL and ESPN together and save the weekly highlights coverage on US and Canadian television. It was an early and largely unnoticed accomplishment of the internet age as e-mail and newsgroups were the media used to launch coordinated action. Looking back, it was an amazing achievement in 1995-1996. It also was the catalyst for the formation of AFANA.

Over the past 20 years we’ve evolved from lobbying by fans to more sophisticated ways of attempting to drive the AFL’s TV strategy (with varying degrees of success). We’ve successfully helped steer them to new TV homes for the sport when old ones blew up on us. We’ve succeeded in keeping it on the air for 21 seasons without fail. Now, we have to decide what we do in 2016 and beyond. The answers for 1996 and 2006 no longer are the right ones. The TV market has changed. The fan base has changed. The AFL is far more media savvy than before and nominally, has an “international” strategy (although fans and marketing seem not to be a big part of that). We must change our tactics and strategy to deal with the AFL, TV networks, and fan development to match the world as it is in 2016.

Let’s take a look at the US landscape today (we’ll deal with Canada and Mexico in a future article):

Announcement on Future Direction of AFANA

AFANA issued the following statement today:

In accordance with the following notice, a search committee was formed today to plan the succession in leadership for AFANA from 2017. Members of that committee will be announced shortly. The committee will make further statements on its plans and progress at a later date.

On January 3rd, Chief Executive Officer Rob de Santos sent an official notice to the Board and the volunteer staff which read, in part:

Fellow AFANAns,

A new number is on my calendar and it repeats every day: 2016. AFANA is in its 21st year and it will, by all indications, be a year of change. ...

This will be my last full year of daily involvement with AFANA as 2017 will bring ... my relocation to another part of the globe.

Urgent Announcement: TV Schedule Change for Grand Final - Action Needed!

Today, Fox Soccer Plus dropped coverage of the pre-game for the Grand Final.

Coverage now starts at 12:30 AM US EDT, just before the first bounce. We were surprised by this change and so far, we have no explanation from Fox regarding the change but we have requested an explanation.

Regardless of the reasons given, this is very disappointing. We strongly urge all fans to contact Fox and the AFL and let them know we want the full coverage restored.

Contact Fox and the AFL via any means you can. Web, Facebook, Twitter, Phone, Fax, whatever you can use. Time is of the essence with the match only 72 hours away.

Here are a few links to get you started. If you find others, reply to us at aussiefb [at) afana [ dot } com and let us know.

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Where's Footy Going in North America Now?

An editorial from the Chairman of AFANA on the future of Australian football in North America.

A week ago the first American, born and raised in the United States, make it to the top level of football down under. I hope that these closing weeks of the AFL season will see Jason Holmes (and perhaps Mason Cox, also) do enough to stay there in coming seasons. It's been a long wait. Twenty years for fans. We've also seen the conclusion of a huge new domestic TV contract for the AFL. It's also a milestone year for AFANA. Two decades of promoting the growth of Aussie rules in North America. From scrambling to save one hour of one week delayed highlights on US / Canadian television back in 1996 to having 12 hours per week of live coverage in the USA & 3 hours in per week in Canada plus highlights and repeats now. We have seen six networks come and go in that time. It's been a long journey.

Decreasing Coverage on Fox Soccer Plus

Fans checking our TV schedule page will notice the rapid decline in AFL coverage on Fox Soccer Plus (FSP), beginning this week and continuing into September. At AFANA, we felt it important to make a statement regarding the situation so that it is understood and the potential long term impact is made clear. Over the past 18 months, FSP has concluded a number of rights agreements for various soccer leagues, both domestic and European. Most of those leagues have now started play for their 2015-2016 seasons. This has meant that the 1 to 3 repeats per week on FSP of all AFL matches on Fox have been reduced. In a few cases, the matches aired live on Fox Sports 2 (FS2) are not repeated on tape delay on FSP. Many of the live matches on FSP have none or one repeat through the first 2 weeks of the finals. Please note that the repeats were not contractually required, so far as we know.  The number of live matches per week has not changed.

Going forward, we strongly encourage fans to check our schedule page frequently and insure that they either watch the match live or record it successfully. For those with WatchAFL, that is also an option. Based on the schedule at present, finals matches will be repeated at most once in the first two weeks. You should not anticipate that any match will be repeated more than once. We do not expect that this will impact Grand Final coverage or that the Grand Final will be shifted off of FSP.
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The Multicultural Fans

The AFL recently held its annual "multicultural round" and made a big splash by offering commentary in a second language for all of the matches. While it might be news to fans down under, alternate language broadcasts are not news to fans in North America. If you check our TV schedules, even occasionally, you have probably noticed listings in French and Spanish. The changes in the way we list telecasts in recent years has made that possible. At AFANA, we're committed to supporting fans who watch in languages other than English and living in North America.

Fox and the Magpies vs. Giants Match on June 14

As many fans know, coverage of the Collingwood v GWS match this past weekend (Round 11, 6/14/15) was interrupted by live soccer coverage. AFANA was made aware of the issue very quickly and responded to fans on Twitter. Here is the full story, the FOX statement, and what we can expect in the future:

On Fox Sports 1, coverage of the auto race in progress was weather delayed and thus ran past the allotted time. That meant the live coverage of the USA v Serbia in the Women’s FIFA tourney, which was to air on FS1, was bumped from FS1 to Fox Sports 2. This meant the FS2 coverage of the FIFA U-20 tourney was bumped from FS2 to Fox Soccer Plus.
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Design Change to Our Site

We have made a design change to the web site today. The right hand sidebar has been eliminated. These functions, including the login box, has been moved toward the lower half of the screen. These changes were made to make our site work better on a variety of devices including the many mobile devices used to access the web now. Our site should now be easier to use on a variety of screen sizes from wide screen monitors to smartphones. If you have any difficulty, please let us know by contacting us through the contact link at the top of the screen.
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We Sure Do Miss You Andrew! Not!

Two years ago, AFANA published an editorial concerning the double talk about international development emanating from AFL executives. (See Confusion or Deception: Mixed Messages from AFL) A year ago, Mr. Demetriou retired from his post as CEO of the AFL. He's mostly been out of the spotlight since but popped up recently to offer his view of the future of the game (Aussie Rules on brink of going global: Demetriou). It seems that a year away has cleared up his foggy lenses. Now he is saying the game is on the brink of going global. If that surprises you, you can only imagine our amusement.

First TV Coverage for 2015 Posted

We've begun to post the first TV schedule listings for the 2015 AFL season with the initial NAB Challenge matches on Fox Soccer Plus (FSP). Over the next few days and weeks we will be adding additional matches, coverage on other networks as it comes in, and updating our TV coverage pages. We do not expect any significant changes to the coverage in North America from what we had in 2014. More news will be added to this post as needed. Update 2/23/15: We have added schedules for WatchAFL and Australia Plus. Coverage on WatchAFL is free during the preseason NAB Challenge. No other North American networks except FSP, WatchAFL, and A+ are covering the preseason. Update 3/3/15: We have added the 4 remaining games only available from afl.com.au or the AFL smartphone / tablet app to the schedule with the network listed as afl.com.au (see bottom of the listings). These games are neither broadcast nor on WatchAFL. We're also adding Round 1 schedules as they trickle in.
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