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Setanta is adding a second live match each week beginning with Round 17 and hopefully continuing the rest of the season.   More in our TV and Media newsletter. 

Update:  No sooner had we announced this than the 2nd match was dropped from the schedule.... standby for further news.

2nd update:  Early indications are that it might be Round 22....  2 live matches are currently listed.  We'll see.

Am I wrong, or has Setanta dropped all live coverage until the Grand Final? Looking at the schedules listed on the AFANA site and ahead on DirecTV would indicate this. Last week my TIVO recording of the live game yielded 3 hours of Soccer. What is going on?

No, you are wrong.  They haven't dropped anything.  The problem is that the AFL doesn't announce the match times and locations for finals until the Monday morning (Australian time) after the previous weekend matches (during finals).  Therefore, the Australian networks have to scramble to decide who covers what, and then (and only then) can Setanta decide what they can fit into their schedule. 

AFANA will have the full schedule of anything Setanta covers posted ASAP after we learn about it.  That should be in the next 24 hrs.

Update (5 Sept):  The schedules for the first week of finals are posted as promised.  We will live coverage of 3 of the finals, tape delayed coverage of the remaining one, and repeats of at least 3 of them.  Can't ask for more than that.  Next week and the following week, the schedule will be posted by Tuesday.

-Rob

You might think that with 4 games to be aired this weekend, everyone would be impressed as you are with Setanta's commitment.  But you would be wrong. 

Today, I read two survey responses where fans who complained that Setanta didn't show enough games and that since they didn't get the coverage on their cable company it was worthless.  

AFANA was formed in 1996 because there was a community spirit and understanding that no matter our individual situation, footy fans were in this together.  We either all hang together or we will all surely lose coverage totally.   In 2006, we've lost much of that understanding.  In part because half of the existing fan base wasn't around in 1996 and because most of the other half have forgotten what it was really like.

This season we finally got live coverage after more than a decade of trying.  In spite of that, the complaints have been as bad as in 1998 (when Fox Sports World took over from ESPN2 and was in 1% of US  homes) or worse.  Yes, I know footy isn't on every TV in America in 2006.  I wish it was.  Neither was Fox Soccer Channel (formerly FOX Sports World) last year (only 21% of US homes) . 

The reality though is that a) the alternative this year was Nada.  Nothing.  Zero.  and that  b) years of fans telling us they wanted live coverage more than anything else in the universe, you'd hope that fans would be pleased that the AFL delivered live coverage to us.   You might also think that more people would understand this is just a first step.   We're not promoting the NFL here.  It is going to take time for the sport and for Setanta. 

We have in Setanta a partner in promoting the sport that is sincere, that listens, and wants this to succeed.  After all, their success will be our success.   After a decade of sometimes dealing with TV networks that have worked against us, lied to us, been uncooperative, and on and on, this season is like a light in a dark cave for those of us who have been active in AFANA.

Yes, I know that fans are frustrated that they can't get Setanta or MHz on their cable system or on DISH Network.  We have a TV Q&A which explains a lot about why we are where we are.   It will get better.

However, if the survey tells us that fans don't want live coverage and want to go back to one hour of highlights a week, I can assure you that's what we'll get.   But it won't be on ESPN (or Fox) and AFANA won't be able to help.    The AFL will give up on us, too. 

Now back to the programming you want... 

As someone who sorely remembers what passed for 'coverage' in the late 90s, I am pleased - nay, ELATED - to have live coverage of any footy, and the coverage of ALL the finals is beyond my wildest dreams.

Thanks so much to Setanta and AFANA and anyone else that had anything to do with this!

Now, if someone could just tell me where to get VB and Tim Tams locally...

RS

Thanks, RS, and I hope that there are enough numbers to keep the live coverage going next season.   Setanta will expand it's reach to more viewers.  MHz will also expand their coverage to more cities.  It's a dual strategy that can work if we support it.  The key is that both companies want this to work.  They believe in the sport.   And wax lyrical all you want about the days on ESPN or Fox or even Prime Sports, but not since the early days on ESPN has the AFL had broadcast partners (and never has AFANA had them), that believed in the sport. 

Yes, this is hard on fans who can't get it.  I know that on a personal level.  AFANA's other officers know that, too, as most of us can't get the coverage.  (Yes, you read that right.).  But sometimes what is best is a long term view.
 

Who would have imagined that Footy Fans in the US would ever be able to see ALL of the Week 1 finals games in their entirety? Every game complete and 3 of 4 games live! I am estatic with Setanta's coverage. Like most footy fans, I wish there was even more coverage but this year has been the most extensive coverage to date. Every footy fan enjoying Setanta's coverage needs to write them and let them know how you feel. Let's not lose this coverage!

I could not agree more with the above comments applauding the Setanta coverage. I was skeptical at first but I decided to abandoned my Timewarner Cable loyalties and get Directv with Setanta, solely because I wanted to watch live AFL. I can honestly say that the Setanta coverage is FAR superior to that on Australian commercial TV. I was in Australia for 3 weeks this past July and the interruptions from ads was annoying to the point of detracting from the enjoyment of the game. At Setanta there is no interruption to the action. The ads are delayed until the end of quarter breaks. I actually don't mind the Saturday delayed telecasts on Setanta either - instead of getting up at an early hour to watch a game, I ignore news of the final score on the Internet and then wait a few hours for the game to telecast at noon. It's just like being back in Western Australia on a Saturday where the Melbourne-based Saturday afternoon game would be broadcast live into Perth at noon. A heartfelt and huge thank you to Setanta and all who have made this all possible and hopefully let it continue for many years to come. In particular, I want to pay a special thanks to Rob de Santos. I believe that in years to come, Rob de Santos (who started AFANA in the mid-90s, engineered this cause to get Aussie Rules on U.S. tv, and has done more to promote the game in the US than the entire history of employees at the AFL in Melbourne have EVER done) will be remembered as one of the great pioneers of true AFL expansion. Sincerely, Shane Dikolli

Thanks, Shane, for the very generous praise.  I hope I've done a fraction of what you give me credit for.  I should also say that along the way many others have helped and generally stayed in the background while I fronted the effort.  Particularly Ann Solomon, now our Editor-in-Chief, and Ben Seacrist, the webmaster.  And probably a hundred others who helped, sometimes financially and almost always without any public credit, in making this work.  

All along I have been driven by my own love of the sport and dedication to it.   In the past couple of seasons, we have finally made real headway in getting understanding at the AFL of what we are about, and what we can do to help.  It is now paying dividends.    I am pleased to hear how happy you are with the coverage.  I'd like to say you are part of a majority but you aren't yet I fear.   There is a strategy behind this and only time will tell if it pays off.

For fans who can't get Setanta or MHz I say be patient.  The commitment of Setanta, the AFL, and Sportsdelivered, our partners, to the Grand Final contest is just one example of what they are willing to do to make this work.   In the meantime, try
ITVN or hang in there.  My hope is that if we can get to season 2 on this, good things are going to start happening.  Many more will get this and the sport will benefit.  

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