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 Usfooty.com.
· 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 afana.com 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