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I have to say that I disagree with the FAQ when it says that the: The announcers should be American so Americans can understand the game better. Personally I really like the Aussie commentators and wouldn't someone else's voice superimposed over. It's similar to how many Soccer fans feel about having "non-British" accents during soccer, it just seems wrong and off.

Hi mcpish,

I'm sure a number of fans would agree with you.  However, in this case the question is what will promote the growth and acceptance of the game here the quickest.  

While many soccer "purists" might agree with you as to what they like, studies of TV ratings show that when viewers hear an American [or Canadian] voice the ratings are higher and they watch longer.  I believe that we must take care of the existing fans but we also must strive to expand the fan base.  Unless Aussie rules doubles or triples the existing fan base over the next decade, it will not achieve it's goals in the US and Canada.

Another issue is one of vocabulary.  One reason this site exists is that we try to explain the game in terms a new American or Canadian fan, having never before seen the sport, will understand.  That is different than saying we do what makes the ex-patriate or hard core fans happy or what they "understand". 

And for the record, we are not suggesting that the voices be superimposed.  Rather we (eventually) want the live coverage here to be hosted here and commented on by Americans and Canadians.  We have many knowledgeable people here who could do the job.  However, as the FAQ notes, we don't expect this to happen any time soon. 

Finally, the reason that item is in the FAQ is that, believe it or not, we get that question often from critics who tell us that until we get Americans doing the match, ratings won't rise.  In this case, I suspect they have more than a grain of truth in their argument.   But your mileage may vary....

Posted by mcpish on September 27, 2006

I guess I just find it unfortunate that things are that way. Personally, I think a lot of my attraction to AFL Football is the "foreigness" of the vocabulary and other aspects of the game. It appeals to me in a lot of ways because it isn't like American/Canadian sports. I just get frustrated by the parochialism of the typical North American. If TV allowed for multiple audio tracks (I think HDTV does) then it might be a good option of letting the user choose which commentator track they wanted to listen to.

This really isn't an issue of parochialism.   There is little doubt that Americans (and Australians) are among the most parochial people of any western countries.   However, this is a matter of making fans out of people who otherwise wouldn't be interested in a "foreign" sport.  (Side note:  just today I saw an Israeli web site that called Australian football a "novelty" sport. And the novelty is undoubtedly the strange voices in part.  See under "Irwin".). 

For every person who is attracted by the unusual voices and the strangeness of the sport, we have to ask how many will become serious fans.  The sport sells itself to people who are exposed to it.  Our job in AFANA, as we see it, is to make as many fans as we can.  If that means American announcers, so be it.  

I would note that the sports greatest TV success in this country came in the early 1980's on the then new ESPN.  And every Grand Final they had an American hosting a pregame show.  They got it then.  (Too bad but ESPN management is no longer interested in footy.)

As an ex-Aussie, I would probably throw up,  listening to the GF by American commentators.  That would be like drinking fine Scotch Whiskey, made by the Chinese.

However I can understand that Americans and Canadians might have difficulty understanding the Ausssie commentators, especially the ex-player turned commentator.  I have listened to a couple of the radio feeds thru the AFL websites, and have sometimes wondered how anyone outside of Australia can understand a word they are saying.

I watched Mad Max, Road Warrior in the US one time and they had dubbed out the Aussie voices and tried to superimpose US voices.  It was like watching one of those shows from Japan, where the voice and the mouth movements do not match up.  Some things are just better left alone!

Long live the Eagles

 

Turn It Up Mate Image removed.

I don't know about Mad Max but a few years ago, the AFL brought Rex Hunt on to do the hosting for the AFL Highlights (in recent years they haven't had a host, just voice-over).   It didn't go well.  Fans didn't understand him and he was too much. 

The operative principle here is what will grow the game.  Sometimes that is at odds with what the existing fans want.
 
Posted by mgoblue on October 20, 2006

First off, I agree about Mad Max. I was so happy when they released a DVD that gave the option of watching it in the original Australian English. The dubbed American version is wretched.

Now to football...

While I agree that with you and others that it's best viewed with Australian commentators, I think for many North Americans new to the sport, it makes more sense to have games with commentators speaking in a more understandable accent and using more accessible terms. If the average American has to wade through a broadcast of a sport that is foreign to him listening to commentators that are using terms that make no sense (to him) in a dialect he finds hard to understand, then chances are he won't stick around long enough to better understand the sport.

During the northern spring and summer and the beginning of fall, the AFL has to contend for viewers with the NHL playoffs, the NBA playoffs, most of the major league baseball season and the beginning of college and professional football. If the coverage is such a way that it's not as easy to understand for the average sports fan, then they won't bother with it because there are other options for him.

Making it more accessible to those who know very little of the sport would be quite beneficial in making them bigger fans. It might make football purists cringe but, in my opion, it should be done if the goal is to get more North Americans to become fans.

The relevant comparison here is what an Aussie audience would expect...  do they watch the Super Bowl and listen to the American announcers or is there an Aussie in the booth for the Australian feed?

Putting an Aussie ex-pat in the booth isn't the solution... the point is that an American or Canadian who has learned the sport explains it to other Americans or Canadians in a voice and accent which they are familiar.  So they focus on the game not the novelty of the accent or sit there befuddled by terminology they don't understand.

Cheers
-Rob
Posted by Bob on February 10, 2007

I can't speak for others, but I'm glad I learned the game listening to Australian announcers rather than American, because it involved me more in the total Aussie experience.  Yes there were some terms I didn't understand at first, but I don't think that interfered much with my learning the game.  But maybe that's just me.

 

Regardless of the announcers, the first timer will probably see the game as mass bedlam on the field but will quickly learn that points are scored when the ball goes between the big posts.

 

Several years ago the highlights programs used to have a short segment explaining a different aspect of the game each week.  Maybe something like that worked in during half-time of the live broadcasts might help.

Well, Bob, I agree with you to a point.   The issue though is still what will cause the game (in particular the fan base) to grow fastest here?  If we rely on "australianizing" Americans, I suspect we will never get further than we are today.

The goal is to get them interested long enough that they get past the "I don't have a clue what is going on" stage to the basic understanding stage and get them hooked as fans.  Once that happens, toss them all the Australian culture you want...  we have a fan we can keep. 

The explanatory segments are an idea that we are considering.  There are some issues about who produces it, etc. to be considered before it gets off the ground.   If it happens, I am inclined to have AFANA and the US network produce it rather than have it done in Australia for the reasons aforementioned in this thread.

-Rob
Posted by Gerry D on February 10, 2007

Firstly, if there is programming with AFANA involved to any extent, I feel confident in both the quality and the outreach to new fans. I do not agree that the springboard of ESPN in the '80s to introduce "Yanks" was any Americanization of the highlights but rather the viewership numbers of the ESPN.

As long as the medium is a third tier cable network (Fox  Soccer) or third tier sattelite package like Setana  (bless them for live coverage, however), it won't matter if we have Stephen Quartermaine or Al Michaels in the booth. We need reach into more households unless you think "Mad Max" would have been iconic as an art-house only release.

I also don't think Rex Hunt's problem, on the Highlight show, with viewers here was because he's from OZ but rather because Rexie is an..er..acquired taste. Tim Watson, Quartermaine, and especially Gerard Healey  wrapped the highlights much better IMHO

 

Gerry

Good points, Gerry.   If the early ESPN effort was about viewership for them, isn't that the same thing?  To make the sport accessible to their audience, they put an American in to host the pre-game and halftime.  That helped their ratings, miniscule as they were at the time, and by extension it helped make fans of the audience. 

As to getting the product into more homes, it seems to me that is where MHz not Setanta is the key.  If they continue to expand city by city and the digital conversion goes according to plan, things will work out better in that regard.  Setanta is catering to the hard core existing fan not the novice.   Thus what they do is a bit different.  Ultimately, one hopes they will have an American host, too.

Rex Hunt was brought on board (at the time) to host the highlights because it was intended to give the shows "more Aussie flavor".  Just the sort of the thing we're talking about.  It failed precisely because he is an acquired taste.    Quartermain is the best host the show ever had.  Don't get me started on Watson and Healy and the corny recommenting fiasco.
Posted by Bob on February 11, 2007

If they ever do present coverage with American commentators, I hope they don't Americanize the coverage to the point of polluting the basics of the game.  I still remember the voice-overs a few years ago when they announced English instead of metric measurements to try to make it more palatable to the American audience (pretending that yards and meters were equal).

 

As for Rex Hunt, I liked his sense of humor.  But then, I'm probably an acquired taste too.  Image removed.

 

I agree Bob that the point would not be to do silly things like convert every measurement but rather to offer statements such as that "kick didn't go 15 metres" or about 17 yards.  Then the next time you don't add that.   Once or twice a telecast will do.    Far more important is to explain the rules and where they differ from forms of football the audience is used to.   Explain goals, scoring, tackling and possession.  Etc. 
Posted by gowers on April 22, 2007

If you were going to use an expat commentator then what about Darren Bennett? :)

As for Rex Hunt, I think that line has to be drawn there; even as aN aussie I can't understand him. He's an eccentric who has a "code" for each player like calling Armstrong [Nth Melbourne] "Moon Man".

However, you can have aussie commentators who explain a few things to the audience. Rather like when I watch rugby league. In that the rugby guys explain stuff that is foreign to me as a Melbournite who has jumped on the Storm bandwagon.

I expect that everyone, Americans included, will like the channel 10 broadcasts better than the ones from 7; 7 uses primitive methods to get camera closeups.  

I like watching the world feed of the Superbowl each year becuase it uses US commentators for the feed, and uses Wyatt and that aussie rock music guy, and that Colin someone who played NFL in the 80s as an aussie who moved to the US. I find it a challenge to work the superbowl out; it's a challenge that I enjoy and don't shirk from.

 

 

Posted by Gerry D on May 08, 2007

I think Gowers' suggestion of Darren Bennett is of the "why didn't I think of that?" stripe...excellent. He played footy at the highest level, and was an all-pro punter (not of the Ky Derby sort <g>) here so he would intuitively know what US fans needed to help them grasp the great AFL game. We may be AFANAtics over footy but it's the casual viewer needing conversion to rabid fandom that will hold the American TV future of the great game in their hands and Bennett is unique in his credentials for bridging the gap and helping build a base

 

Gerry

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