For those who have not yet heard our latest podcast, I myself am not a current fan of the new Aussie Rules format. Even though we have not yet seen it in action or know how well it works, I find myself asking why. Why does the the AFL feel the need to add in another format to an already busy schedule? Why do they need to drastically change the way the sport is played? It has currently a massive $2.5 billion size year T.V. rights deal. The AFL Grand Final was the most watched T.V. event for 2017. It’s Women’s League was a hit in 2017. So why are they doing it? The answer is global dominance.
The EPL (English Premier League), which is regarded as the most exciting soccer league to watch in the world, sold its latest rights for just under $9 billion over 3 years. The reason for this is the global reach the sport has. The AFL currently sees the T.V. rights close to its peak. This is one of the reasons for such an investment in the Women’s game as well. Yes they want equality, they want to bring women and young girls to the games. But they also realise that in order to get much more than the current T.V. rights, they need to give more games and reach more markets. The AFL W allows them to reach more local markets, where they are hoping that the AFL X allows them to reach more global markets. They realise if they can initially get into Asia, it will allow them to reach billions of people, unfortunately for them they are well over a decade behind soccer.
Another problem the AFL have with breaking into other countries is the fact they have tried over the past two to three decades and they just can’t. Whatever the reason, other countries just don’t seem to want to watch AFL. Yes they have social leagues around the world, but they just cannot get into the other markets. The AFL X is a way they can attempt to get in. They are able to showcase a game that does not last long at all, capture people’s imagination and try get them “sucked in” to watch the longer format.
Australia as a country, does not need it. Do we really want to watch a game that, taking away the oval ball and two goal posts, does not resemble Aussies Rules at all? I doubt clubs want to be playing it on the eve of the season. I mean, do the 18 clubs really want to be altering their playing and game plans to suit a game that is completely different? Are the gun players actually going to play? Do the clubs actually care for the variant?
I myself will be interested to see the outcome of the first edition of AFL X. Will it be the AFL’s buried treasure? Or will it serve as a seasonal booby trap? I for one am leaning towards the latter.
For those who want to watch it, the games will be played over one weekend on the 15th, 16th and 17th of Feb. For more information http://www.afl.com.au/aflx