Feb 9, 2018

How the Seven Network is failing the AFLW

After a big ratings dip, AFLW coaches are being asked to overhaul the game. With huge crowds and massive interest in the game, is that really the only factor at play?

Kylie Maslen

Freelance writer

On Wednesday the AFL took the unprecedented step of contacting all eight AFLW coaches to issue directives as to how they should be running play. Phone calls were followed up by a memo, which was then leaked to the media. The AFL’s concern is that the style of play being fielded in the AFLW is too defensive, too congested, and not conducive to free-flowing football, which is seen as the most exciting form of the game for audiences.

The concern comes after a significant 59% drop in national ratings for the Seven Network for round one of the 2018 competition compared to the inaugural 2017 season. What is encouraging though, is the comparative crowd numbers between the two seasons, with 50,350 attendees across the first four matches of the 2017 season compared to 44,572 for the same fixture in 2018, a drop of only 11%. On top of this, the round two clash between Fremantle and Collingwood (the first game of football to be played at the new Perth Stadium) has officially sold out with 56,000 tickets sold.

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11 thoughts on “How the Seven Network is failing the AFLW

  1. The Curmudgeon

    As if a “defensive style of play” isn’t all too evident in the men’s game with endless stoppages and lower scores than in the free-flowing era of the 1970s and 1980s. Does anyone old enough seriously think that today’s AFL game is a better spectacle?
    And, will be the AFL be sending a memo to the Carlton AFL coach, whose team has managed (from memory) one score of over 100 points in forty four games?

  2. graybul

    There can only be one response to Channel 7 and a seriously conflicted AFL hierarchy. And that is a rigid middle digit finger. Players and coaches SHOULD TELL THEM BOTH TO RACK OFF!

  3. Phen

    The last thing we need is more bloody footy coverage bleeding into summer months. AFLX and AFLW are both just more attempts by the AFL to steal the oxygen from other sports.

  4. Desmond Graham

    It is great to see women playing and competing in all the sports in the sporting activities we indulge in for pleasure – not many are aware that even in the Roman era there were women gladiators in the Colisseum in Rome.

    The latest ‘competitions’ are really to fill extra TV time with Australian content. Really the standard and quality of play is about what one would see at high school football. So the audience reach is somewhat limited to relatives and the sport TV addicted. For instance if one really wants to see competitive sport- nothing surpasses the Saturday afternoon GPS, and Club Games- these are also to limited audiences of diehard fans of the sports involved – not really commercially viable for sporting broadcast. We don’t have the population to support the great audiences of American College Football which is down the rung from the big Leagues .

  5. Duncan Gilbey

    “…but crowd numbers clearly demonstrate that the audience is on side.”
    But TV ratings say otherwise. I can’t imagine Channel 7 pumping resources into something where audience numbers are falling.
    The product definitely needs to improve.

    1. zut alors

      To compensate for less advertising opportunities & lower ratings perhaps Seven could hit up the government (er, taxpayers) for $30M for women’s & niche sport in the manner of Fox last year. Seven’s executives would actually have the chutzpah to try. And, like Fox, they wouldn’t need to account for how the largesse is being spent.

  6. John Ryan

    Christ women have been playing both Rugby Codes for yonks they even play overseas,AWFL good god what a waste of time then AFLX this will be sold as What ?
    AFL is boring enough these days compared to what I watched with my Dad when it was played by hard men,it was a tough game,now its just a running race with an optional football its turned into a joke to me but the over educated like it

  7. Xoanon

    The distinction between Seven’s two channels is meaningless. They’re both digital, they’re both free-to-air, they’re both broadcast and received in the same manner. So what?

  8. Robin Brett

    The sad fact is that no-one — well hardly anyone — wants to watch AFLW. That’s because it’s not very good, in fact it’s terrible.

    Channel 7 can’t be expected to pump dollars and prime time hours into a show that no-one watches. They’re in the entertainment business, and AFLW entertains only the diehard few. Sure, if women want to play Australian Rules Football, good on them. But they have no right to be stars in the sport branch of the entertainment industry any more than I have a right to be a star in the popular music branch, and no amount of wishful thinking will change that.

    1. Lord Muck

      To each their own, Brett. I watch all the AFLW games and wish the live coverage was better. They are some of Australia’s best sportswomen and the physicality is astounding. It is far preferable to watching overweight men throwing footballs to each other (sorry) in near-empty stadiums as per the current Global Rugby Tens competition in Brisbane.

    2. mikeb

      I applaud the concept but the reality is that the players are not skilled enough & not fit enough. This might well change but people won’t pay to watch third rate footy. Attendance figures have to be tempered with the fact that admission is totally free and the game itself still has a novelty effect.

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