Seven has finally had the biggest victory of Australian TV for years. The rise of its cheap and cheerful AFL show The Front Bar has finally seen Nine bite the bullet and axe the AFL Footy Show in its current form to replace it (expensively) with a new version for 2019. Eddie McGuire and Sam Newman, who have become irritants in the eyes of many viewers, will only feature occasionally on the new program next year.
Seven has been trying to beat the AFL Footy Show now for more than two decades — at times trying programming shifts and then leaving it alone after being defeated. But that changed when Seven moved the modest post-Friday night AFL broadcast studio show, The Front Bar to Thursdays in 2017 at 8.30pm — right up against the AFL show and McGuire on Nine. The Front Bar beat Nine’s effort repeatedly this year. Towards the end of this year it had tens of thousands of viewers in Melbourne and well over 100,000 nationally.
The decision was announced by McGuire (whose company produces the AFL Footy Show for Nine) on Triple M radio in Melbourne Friday morning.
The call comes after a plunge in the ratings in the 2018 AFL season proved too much for Nine’s management, which is looking to cut costs as it beds down the takeover of Fairfax Media.
It will be the fourth revamp for the Footy Show in three years. There was one in early 2017, another mid-year in 2017 when McGuire came back as host and then one at the start of the 2018 season.
McGuire told Nine’s Today he will only host a series of Footy Show “specials” throughout the year, but will leave weekly hosting duties to a new team. He claimed the decision was made because of Nine’s busy 2019 sporting calendar, where the network will carry the 2019 Ashes series in England and the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England — all during prime-time.
It will also have more NRL games in northern markets next year and Seven and Foxtel will be broadcasting more AFL games on Thursday (which has forced Nine to move the AFL show to be moved to Wednesday nights).
Newman will be back. McGuire claimed that Nine had signed a new deal with the ageing personality, despite Newman claiming earlier this year that he was going — 2019 will be a big year for all concerned. If there’s another year of failure, like 2018 was, it will be curtains.