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(Update: 3/8/12: We have schedules now for TSN in Canada on our TV page.  In Round 1 TSN2 will have Hawthorn v Collingwood and 3 more on TSN.ca:  GWS v Syd, Rich v Coll, NMel v Ess.  We don't have US scheds or network yet but you can assume the matches will be the same and you can guess the network.  We will have more shortly.)  (Further info as of 2/28/12:  AFANA's sources suggest that a TV deal for both the USA and Canada is very close. We're waiting for an announcement or details from the AFL. That's all we can say at this stage since it is not possible to confirm any additional information. We don't want to jeopardize any deal or put out unconfirmed info so that's all we tell you at this time. [In other words, asking for more will not get you anything, OK?].)  Original article: This is a brief update on the expected TV coverage of the AFL in North America in 2012.  For US viewers, we can advise that at this time we do not expect any coverage on ESPN affiliated networks in 2012 based on information from ESPN.  However negotiations are on-going according to the AFL. (This has no bearing on whether ESPN covers the sport in other parts of the world.) Coverage on MHz Networks will likely continue however, no agreement has been concluded.  We understand negotiations are continuing but beyond that we do not have further information at this time.  For Canadian fans, we are awaiting word but with the loss of ESPN it would be reasonable to assume that coverage on TSN is endangered. [Ed. note: this article has been slightly revised following a request by the AFL to remove it.  AFANA has determined that it accurately reflects the information we have received and we are re-publishing it.]

Fans are encouraged to be patient as AFANA is seeking additional information from the AFL and the TV networks.  We still have about 8 weeks until the AFL season is underway.  We will, as always, keep you informed with updates as things progress and advise if we think fans should take action. 

Article last changed on Friday, March 09, 2012 - 1:29 AM EST


Comments

Posted by admincms on January 30, 2012

Hi Swans500,

I agree it isn't good news but beyond that, we can't draw any conclusions.  It's simply too early to know.  Until we know what or who replaces ESPN it isn't possible to assess what it means. The AFL and ESPN did not reach an agreement, that is pretty much what we know.  As mentioned, more news to follow soon. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by ChicagoCarltonFan (not verified) on February 04, 2012

Horrible news if ESPN really has dropped footy. Has anyone tried LiveAFL.tv? Five matches per week live and full match replays of all available in the US and Canada. If the quality is good (and no ESPN3), I'll pay for my matches.

Hi ChicagoCarltonFan,

It isn't so much that ESPN dropped the sport as ESPN and the AFL have been unable to come to terms.  ESPN wants the sport but like any contract negotiation both parties have to end up on the same page. 

We've listed LiveAFL.tv for several years (see our TV pages!).  Fans have had mixed reactions to it.  The quality and reliability has been very uneven and it has not always worked reliably on all types of personal computers.  There are various threads here in the forums with fans both happy and unhappy with it. 

The AFL has yet to give us details on what will be available via LiveAFL.tv for the 2012 season. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

 I paid for,  and used Live AFL all last season and it was as near perfect a stream as I could want. It was well worth the money and played 5 games a week which would have been 8 games a week if ESPN3 was not handling the other 3!   ESPN3 had commercials...Live AFL did not....  So, anyway,  on that basis I would think they would stream all games this season if the deadlock between ESPN and AFL is not resolved. Why the AFL argues with any outlets in this country is a mystery to me anyway. Just for promotional purposes and for the sake of the few diehard expats , one would think they may be pleased to supply it at low cost!!!! They are not going to do much better...looonnngggway to go before they can get too contrary.

BTW...I have Verizon Fios which is very reliable high speed internet so maybe that is why LiveAFL works so well for me...BUT...I have taken the laptop on vacation with me and it still has streamed very well....

Dennis....

Thanks, Dennis.  Good to know LiveAFL worked well for you!  If you post the type of computer you have and operating system that would help others know if they can expect success, too.

I wouldn't characterize the AFL and networks as arguing with each other.  It's just negotiations for rights to air, what to air and when, and compensation.  Pretty much what you would expect any league and broadcaster to do.  Sometimes the two parties just aren't on the same page.  The AFL wants better coverage in the US and Canada.  What the AFL wants and ESPN feels they can offer just aren't aligned at the moment.  Frankly, ratings for the coverage on ESPN have been disappointing.  Some of that is ESPN's fault but it's also the fault of the AFL. When AFANA and the USAFL are the only ones promoting the coverage and do so on a minuscule budget what can you expect? Footy fans who tell AFANA that they won't watch because they a) don't like the match selection or b) don't like the times, or c) don't like the network, or etc. etc. make it difficult. If I added up every fan who didn't like it when it was on FOX, or didn't like it when it was on Setanta, or didn't like it when it was on ESPN, etc. I'd be able to fill the MCG several times over.  If I get that feedback, imagine what the AFL gets from fans.  Until ratings rise or we get some major sponsorship it's always going to fall short. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

 Yeah Rob....I have 4 different computers and LiveAFL works very well on all.  They are...an IMAC desktop running Snow Leopard...Windows 7 running on the same Mac.....A Windows 7 lap top, and ...plugged into my TV is an old Windows XP system. The stream works equally well on any of those systems...all wireless to FIOS.

BUT, as previously mentioned, I have taken the lap top on vacation and therefore relying on local wireless connections, and the stream has been still reliable. 

Only had two problems in all of last season...one week they put the wrong game on the stream I had chosen, but corrected it halfway into the 1st Quarter.

And on the day that my Swans beat Geelong ...despite programming the game...it vanished from program at the last minute and was not on ESPN3 either. Only time that happened and it DID hurt, LOL...

DEnnis....

Posted by Alfonz on February 06, 2012

I think the reason that some are happy with liveAFL and some are unhappy comes down to how picky you are.  It certainly worked OK for me (albeit with some delays to getting replays up) in terms of games being able to be watched live ... however I thought the service was very amateurish and the quality was poor.  The video quality on the ESPN3 feed was a much, much higher standard than liveAFL.  Things like liveAFL putting replays up with the incorrect aspect ratio (such that players were squished) really annoyed me.  Some people don't care, and are happy enough to just be able to see it. 

Really bad news that ESPN won't be covering footy (if things don't change).  Would they at least still show the Grand Final?  There is so much filler programming on ESPN and also NBCSN (the old Versus), that I struggle to fathom how the AFL can't convince them to put some AFL on proper TV (not just ESPN3), even if it isn't in the best timeslot.

One thing I have noticed, whenever I tell people I am Australian ... they are mostly aware about football (sometimes they are confused with rugby) ... the interest is there, it just needs to be put in front of people who aren't going to go out of their way to seek it out. 

Hi Alfonz,

I'm sure that the variations in tolerance is part of the explanation however a perusal of the comments on this site over the past several seasons will show that is not the only or maybe even the primary reason.  The primary problem appears to be that the service has not worked well on some types of computer setups  Last year was the first year in many that it worked at all on Apple computers, for example.  Dennis reports above he had good success though others did not (including myself on some occasions).  The quality is an issue but by no means the only one. 

Please do not reference or promote illegal feeds of AFL matches here.  If we allow that I can assure you that the AFL and the networks will stop working with us and then everyone loses. We know this stuff goes on but we simply can't be party to it in anyway and still be an effective voice for footy fans.  I have edited your post to remove the reference. 

It is unknown what will happen to Grand Final coverage at this time however there is no reason to think that ESPN would have rights to the GF if they don't have rights to the rest of the season.  It is not a question of whether ESPN has better or worse alternative programming.  The issues are about how much coverage the sport gets week to week and where on ESPN, and other questions.  Even ESPN would tell you they think the AFL is quality programming and they'd like to have it.  On their terms, of course, and that's the rub.  Even quality programming, if it rates poorly, isn't any more valuable than poor programming. 

AFANA, from it's inception in 1995-1996, has always felt that the sport sells itself if fans are exposed to it.  That said, lots of marketing and fan education is needed.  That's part of the reason we exist.  To do that, we need fan support, including financially.  We do not receive any AFL funding.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Hello,

Long time listener, first time caller here.

I'm somewhat puzzled as to the stance the AFL is taking with ESPN and while I don't know what "page" each entity is on, it certainly seems that wherever the AFL is, they should quickly jump to what ESPN is offering.

Although I have no idea what the sticking points may be, I would think that ESPN3 is a no-brainer for the AFL. It doesn't take up any channel space, has nothing to do with the ratings and the cost is basically zero since ESPN simply captures the uplink, then places it on ESPN3. From my observations of ESPN3 over the past couple of years, it seems automated with ESPN commercials or "We'll Be Right Back" signs covering the local advertisements. So it seems that the entire effort on ESPN's part is to have whoever is placing Polo from Argentina, archery from Italy and 7-hour matches of cricket that can't be any more popular than the AFL is in America simply type in a few more sentences and codes for the AFL.

As for ESPN2, if the ratings were bad enough that reruns of Sportscenter did better, then not having that station is understandable. I think pushing for the Grand Final is fine, but everything else is gravy at best if the ratings are indeed that bad. And if they don't even get the Grand Final, then ESPN 3 is still there. 

Perhaps the new broadcasting contract that was signed last April may be playing some type of role in the current negotiations...maybe. Although I've read nothing that indicates that, it is the one change that has been made in terms of broadcasting. A "Fox" logo over the local transmission would not sit well at ESPN...

Whatever the case may be, ESPN3 is a valid opportunity for the AFL and I hope that at the very least they grab it, if they can't get anything else.

Ken

Hi Ken,

Welcome aboard.  We can't say too much more than we've said but it will be clearer in due course. 

I will say that while the ratings on ESPN2 are better than "background" they aren't enough better to get anybody in Bristol to stand up and notice.  We'd hoped that the sport would get some of the fans who remember it on ESPN from before to return.  However, with just 4 or 5 matches outside the Grand Final it's simply not a regular enough schedule to build any following from week to week.  AFANA has no reason to believe the Australian TV rights contract has had any negative influence here.  We should give the AFL credit that they listened to fans who have told them they want better coverage and they are trying to achieve that. 

Both the AFL and ESPN appear to want to make a deal but as we said, sometimes that still doesn't get a deal done.  I'd like to be hopeful but at this stage AFANA has nothing to tell us that optimism would be warranted.  The AFL will, I am sure, explore other possibilities. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Ken (not verified) on February 08, 2012

Thanks for your quick reply. I understand that there are issues being discussed between the AFL & ESPN that go beyond what is known to the public. All I can say is that outlets like ESPN3 provide a growing source of national exposure that is available to many cable/internet subscribers for free. Plus, free internet sources such as ESPN3 reach plenty of younger people in the US as they use their mobile devices for entertainment in increasing numbers over TV. I'd like to see the AFL have a match a week on ESPN2, that would be great...but if it isn't going to happen, then I feel the AFL should focus on staying on ESPN3 and direct any marketing effort to attract the younger viewers to the sport. I hope the AFL doesn't "throw the baby out with the bathwater" so to speak and settle for a limited amount of national broadcast exposure over staying on a highly popular free internet service like ESPN3. ...and for the record, I don't work for ESPN3...:) So I will say that any other free internet service that provides high quality and is as available as ESPN3 would be a good alternative as well. Ken

Hi Ken,

Your arguments in favor of ESPN3 are probably some of the same ones our staff would make.  Of course, I can assure you that many fans would disagree.  Count among those the 35% of the fans who don't have access to ESPN3 because their cable or satellite provider has no deal with ESPN for it.  You can add to that those that won't watch footy online even it it's free.  When the deal with ESPN was announced in 2009, AFANA received many bitter complaints by fans who were either unhappy that it was no longer on Setanta (which went belly up in the US) or who felt it was a second rate solution for the AFL.  We still get very negative messages accusing us, and / or the AFL, and / or ESPN of being incompetent or not "getting it".  No matter what coverage we get this year I can be sure we'll get complaints. 

We're not going back to the days of the early 80's when ESPN carried a match a week live on Friday or Saturday nights in the near future.  Weekly and free live coverage is the goal though and should be achievable on some broadcast outlet.  Fans would have to do their part and watch it regularly else it would fail.  Whether we get there anytime soon is debatable but AFANA will keep trying. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Ken (not verified) on February 08, 2012

Again, thanks for your prompt reply. I fully understand that anything short of full, free coverage of every AFL match broadcasted on network TV is going to have people complaining about it...and even in that case, some people are going to complain about it. I applaud your efforts and those who are trying to find the best solution. I remember the "old days" of ESPN in the '80's when they really covered footy, but even then everyone knew that was simply transitional until ESPN could purchase more "popular" programming and sure enough, footy went away. That scenario of a new, fledgling nationwide network hungry for sports programming is not likely to happen again, at least not on cable anytime soon. My view is that "some" AFL is better than "none" and I do view ESPN3 as a viable option in that case. If a better solution presents itself, great, I'm all for it. Until then, it appears that I'll have to resign myself to paying for the AFL, at least a single month of it to see how it goes in order to enjoy some footy. If it's good, I'm willing to pony up more cash, if not, well I can always read up on what happened. I want to thank you for your posts, I appreciate your patience and efforts. I will keep up to see what happens and hope that we see the AFL on TV shortly or free internet if that's the case. Thanks Ken

 I just got an email from LIVEAFL stating that the site will be off line for a few days for upgrading: 

"In preparation for the new season, we've decided to upgrade the site and some of the features. That means the LIVEAFL.TV website will be unavailable on Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th February 2012.

We'll be back well in time to stream The NAB Cup on 17th Feb LIVE, in High Quality and Upgraded!

Regards
The LIVEAFL Team"

Interesting that the NAB CUP is mentioned.Have not had telecasts of that before!

Dennis....

We loved watching AFL on ESPN3 last year via our Xbox 360. It was the first time that we were able to watch the games in HD.

While I sincerely hope that ESPN and AFL can come to a new agreement for 2012, I'd like to ask those who are watching the games via LIVEAFL whether the stream is in HD format.

Thanks.

 

Update on AFL.com. Email just received.....

Big News for LIVEAFL.TV! We have now fully integrated with LIVESPORT.TV and have moved to http://www.afl.livesport.tv/

The LIVESPORT.TV family has over 30 sports channels and your login now gives you access to FREE information and Highlights across these channels.

There will be a modest price increase to go along with the additional benefits. Your previous annual subscription was  USD 85.95 and it will increase to USD 99.99 come the end of your current year's access. However, we will give you FREE access to the NAB Cup, starting 17th February 2012! All you have to do is log on as usual.

That's not all, This year we'll be broadcasting MORE GAMES than ever. So polish up your monitor screen, log on to LIVESPORT.TV and DON'T MISS THE ACTION.

Dennis.....

Thanks, Dennis.  I saw the same thing myself today.  I love how they describe a 17% price rise as modest.  Frankly, I'd suggest people look at MHz, too, if you're going to have to spend $100 this year. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by William (not verified) on February 25, 2012

Heres an Idea...someone should contact NBC Sports Network rather than relying on the 4 letter to do anything smart. As an AFL fan for years and having spent the money to get Setanta when they were around, I knew it would be a disaster when the 4 letter too over. Now that Versus has combined with the NBC Sports division and NBC and Comcast are one company now, it would be smart to go after NBC Sports Network as a means for coverage. The network is very strong and is the reason why the NHL has had a resurgence within the US over the last few years since their strike.

Hi William,

Let me assure you that NBC Sports has been contacted and they have indicated they are NOT interested.  I wish they were but they aren't.  This is not to say that might not change in the future but probably not this season.

I'd also want to note that coverage on ESPN has not been a disaster unless I miss something here.  I'm not sure why you think that, perhaps you can explain?

ESPN has done a professional job.  No network is going to be perfect for every fan.  For years, when coverage was on Setanta we had posts here and e-mails to AFANA and the AFL telling us to get onto ESPN because Setanta didn't reach enough homes, was too expensive, unprofessional, poor quality, etc. etc. No matter what network is ultimately signed, I can assure you that we'll get complaints telling AFANA and the AFL that it's on the worst possible network.  It's been that way since 1995.  I'm not cynical, just trying to indicate how hard it is to please everyone. 

The current issue is not that ESPN failed to do what was promised and contractually required.  In fact, they did more than was required.  If you read the posts here from the past 2 1/2 years you'll find many fans happy with it and some not.  The current tissue is that the AFL's coverage goals and what ESPN is willing to offer are not on the same page. 

We're still hoping to have an update for fans in the next few days. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Harry Campbell (not verified) on March 30, 2012

I am not able to get http://www.afl.livesport.tv to accept credit card payment. I know I have valid cards, but it just fails for all of them, with no explanation. I sent them an email asking for help. We'll see what happens. Too bad this is so darn difficult. Also annoying how the site gives away the game results with the titles for the highlight videos.
Posted by admincms on March 30, 2012

Hi Harry,

If you do not receive a satisfactory response, please forward copies of all your correspondence to AFANA via our standard aussiefb at afana e-mail address.  We can then forward it to the appropriate people at the AFL.  Be sure, too, to call your bank or financial institution to make sure they have not blocked the charges from the service since they will originate from a non-US location.  Also, the bank can tell you if they see anything coming through to them or if it fails before it gets to them. 

Regarding the service giving away the results, I will bring that to the attention of the AFL. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

 For the technically minded.....I am watching NAB Cup on AFLLive and I see that they are streaming in 4.3...

Last year it was 16.9, so a regressive step and hope it is not permanent, as the camera work is noticably panning for wide screen....

Dennis...

Almost everything on LiveAFL.tv was in SD but as posted in another comment, available in 16:9 aspect ratio.  Also, Seven Network produces virtually all domestic coverage in SD, however this year Foxtel says they are going 100% HD.  One of the issues ESPN mentioned to us last year was their frustration with the availability of the content in true HD. 

Another note I'd make would be that we believe MHz will continue and their content is available via Roku, broadcast as the 2nd or 3rd channel of public television in many cities, etc.  So X-box is not out of the question.  Go to the MHz web site (linked on our TV pages for last year) and check out the latest info on where to watch MHz,  This is our default now if nothing else is worked out. 

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

 Hi Alphonse...I most certainly AM picky when it comes to quality of reception or stream!  I do not know if the differences we have experienced are a physical geographic location thing or what?! But I primarily ran my streams though a 42" HDTV and the quality of both ESPN3 and LIVEAFL were almost inseparable!!!! I would certainly notice any aspect ratio problems and it simply never occurred ,...for ME. Either live or on replay. Which reminds me....often I could not get the ESPN3 relays to work correctly or they were inundated with commercials. Had no problem with the replays on LiveAFL...although I only used it for Sydney games...not every single match....

Seems almost like you are confusing the service with the old AFL.com/BigPond service which was appalling. LIVEAFL was only on for the first time last year and was in fact a continuation of the Omnisport service of the previous year!

Dennis....

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