With the rugby league premiership starting
tonight, and the AFL premiership still three weeks away, rugby league has a chance to
impress Aussie Rules followers, and others hungry for any sport on television. But it seems the NRL has missed this
opportunity – especially in Victoria, where the NRL is supposed to be planning a greater impact for the
game.

If you are a newcomer, but only have free
to air television and don’t like watching
replays, I’ve got some bad news for you: Channel Nine does not broadcast live NRL
matches – at least not until the semi-finals start in September.

Tonight’s season opener between the
reigning premiers the Tigers and the Dragons will be shown on Nine at
8.30pm (closer to 8.45pm usually), and will struggle to end before
11pm.

If you can’t wait, and want to listen to
the live radio broadcast, sorry again. In what is an outrageous deal Packer extracted
from rugby league, the Friday night game cannot be broadcast live on radio – the
stations even get chipped if they have too many score updates.

So tonight might be a disappointment, but
it gets much better tomorrow – provided you have pay television.

The Knights v Eels game will be shown live
on Fox at 5.30pm. The coaches are, respectively, Michael Hagan and Brian Smith. Next
year, when the teams meet, the coaches will be, respectively, Brian Smith and
Michael Hagan!

Then Fox will show the Bulldogs v Panthers
game live at 7.30pm, followed by the Sea Eagles v Raiders on delay at 9.20pm.

I have long given up trying to follow the ABC radio coverage of
league, so I’d recommend the 2GB or 4BC live coverage tomorrow night – and
again on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday on Fox will be well worth watching –
the Warriors v Storm at noon followed by the Rabbitohs v Roosters live
at 2.30pm. The Queensland derby between the Broncos and the Cowboys
will be on replay at 4pm,
but live on radio at 2pm.

Now for our Melbourne readers,
the free to air coverage is as bad as ever – tonight’s game will be replayed at
11.45pm. Sunday afternoon’s match will be replayed at 12.15am MONDAY. It’s a similar story in Perth.

And both the NRL and PBL put their hands over
their corporate hearts and proclaim a commitment to promoting the game in Melbourne!

Peter Fray

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