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Flashback to 2006.  Fox Sports Network had decided it would not carry Aussie Rules, and North America was without a coverage partner for the 2006 season.
Setanta Sports stepped in and offered us a dream come true:  two or three live games a week (maybe more in the future they said), a one-hour weekly highlights program, live finals series coverage and a live Grand Final all the way from Waltzing Matilda to post-game interviews.  All this, for three years minimum.
Sadly, it wasn’t good enough for some of our fans.  It wasn’t free, it was on at oh-dark-thirty, it was on satellite, it was on a strange network, and the list goes on.  Whatever the reasons, the truth is that we didn’t rally around the live coverage and we didn’t support it.  Setanta is not an altruistic network – and North America didn’t deliver the footy fans we could have (and should have).
So here we are, late in the 2009 season.  Setanta’s dropped the sport for financial reasons.  The AFL worked hard and found a new partner for the US and Canada. 
ESPN will offer live matches via broadband, so we’re a little better off than we were four years ago.  As far as broadcast goes, we’ve been promised a live Grand Final on ESPN2 for 2009.  Next season?  Four games and a live Grand Final.  Maybe more.  Maybe not.   America One and MHz Worldview will offer delayed match coverage and highlights.
And that’s what we have through 2011.
So what do we need to do now?  First of all, it’s time to support what you have. 
· Support the broadcast programming on MHz Worldview, America One and on ESPN.  If you don’t get MHz Worldview or America One, we’ll be working with the networks to craft a letter for you so that you can send to your local PBS station, community station, or cable/satellite providers. 
· Support the programming on broadband via ESPN360.
· Support your local Grand Final parties and get connected within your community of fans of the game (register your party or find out about them here).
· Support your local and regional Aussie Rules teams, clubs and programs. Build stronger relationships between spectators and players.  We all want this sport to succeed in North America.  We need to work together.  For more information, visit

· Complete the 2009 footy fan survey that is currently going on -- you can access it through our home page.  Let us know who you are, what you've liked, what you would like to see in the future.  We only do this once every three years, so make sure your voice is heard.
We’ll be providing more information and offering ways to move forward in the days and weeks ahead. We’ll be working with ESPN and the AFL to make things as good as they can be.  In the meantime, keep checking for updated TV and broadband schedules and for Grand Final parties in your area.
Lastly – but definitely not least – we need your feedback.  If you want to contribute positive suggestions about going forward, let us know.  Now’s not the time to be negative — we’ve tried that and it didn’t work so well.  But we’re open-minded as to next steps, so please share your ideas.  We want to hear from you. 
Thank you for your time.

Kimber Smith and Joe Fidler
Interim Co-chairs, AFANA

Article last changed on Thursday, July 01, 2010 - 11:31 AM EDT


Posted by Doug Matchett (not verified) on August 10, 2009

I've been watching almost every game shown by Setanta Sports this year. The time should mean nothing in the days of the PVR. Your report worries me when I see that there may only be 4 games broadcast next season but when I look at your TV Events Calendar it looks like we're getting 3 games per week this year on ESPN 360 so I will still be watching.
Posted by admincms on August 10, 2009

Hi Doug,

It sounds like you are a bit confused on the new coverage.  I'll give you a capsule but the full story is here.  This year and continuing thru 2011, there will be up to 3 games live per round on ESPN360.   This season ESPN2 will have the Grand Final live.  Next year, in addition to the ESPN360 coverage, ESPN2 will air 4 select games during the course of the season plus the Grand Final live.   You can get the full schedule, as far out as we know it, on our TV schedules page at any time.  Our TV Info page gives you a summary of all the available coverage.

It would be nice if "times didn't matter" but they do to many fans, particularly those who don't record the telecasts.  According to our surveys that is over half  of all regular viewers.

AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Jason (not verified) on August 17, 2009

It looks like ESPN360 is removing the AFL archived games, so you have only a couple of days to watch a game.
Posted by Josh (not verified) on August 20, 2009

Rob: I suppose one could say that coverage in the U.S. is still reasonably good, but in Canada it's dropped to just one game a week (no games at all in round 22), and no weekly highlights. Finals coverage is indeterminate. This isn't much consolation to me, since I subscribed to Setanta from the moment AFL coverage became available. I'm sure there's a market for footy -- geez, there's even a local footy league in Ontario and Quebec -- but this comes as a pretty hard blow. As with other sports, local participation is inspired by top-level competition, and if that's not on TV, interest will eventually wane. Short of lobbying for ESPN2 on Canadian satellite TV, I'm at a loss for ideas. Regards Josh
Posted by admincms on August 20, 2009

Hi Josh,

There is a thread on the main article on the coverage change regarding the situation in Canada (be sure to read all the replies):

To rephrase what I've said there, AFANA agrees that the Canadian coverage is inadequate.  AFANA will be working with the AFL and TSN to seek improvements to the times and quantity of coverage as we go forward.  We're sympathetic to the plight of Canadian fans. 

The loss of coverage on Setanta Canada was on a smaller scale, due to the same factors that caused the loss in the USA.  The long term solutions are similar, too.   We're sure there is a market for the sport in Canada.  Over the 15 years we have been at this there have been times when the Canadian coverage was worse, the same, and yes, even better than the US.  It probably will be all those things again at some time or another.  AFANA has not forgotten Canada and we don't believe the AFL has either.  We're all in a bad spot because of the situation we have found ourselves in.  You might have been happy with the coverage on Setanta Canada but you'd be surprised at how many fans thought it was still not good enough for them to subscribe.   We're still getting e-mail and survey responses from people all across North America who tell us, in effect, that $14.99 per month was too much to pay for 2 live games per week or more appropriately, 8 per month.  Given that, you can see why selling another network is a not so easy task for the AFL and AFANA. 

Kimber didn't address Canada as specifically as she did the US in her post above but if you substitute TSN and Canada in most places it comes down to the same issues and the same direction we must go.  We have to support what we have and work together to make it better.  That's why AFANA exists and that's what we've always believed.  

AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Swans500 on August 13, 2009

Well....I cancelled Setanta immediately, but I have to say the ESPN 360 stream is strong and they are broadcasting more games than Setanta was this year. They do not have pre-game or half time coverage but there is always the radio streams for that!

Overall....WAY better than nothing.... and free as well!

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