Monday Buzz: Family-friendly schedule trumps TV
The NRL is finally standing up to television network Channel 9 over the season schedule.
No longer will the showpiece match of the round be shown on prime-time Thursday nights.
When the NRL draw is released on Tuesday, it will be the most family-friendly schedule we've had since the networks took control of the timeslots.
This year the emphasis is on getting fans back to the football rather than just TV ratings that have been average anyway.
Last season crowds were down slightly and there has been little or no growth in the past 10 years.
Something needs to be done about it.
The answer is to make the schedule more appealing for families. Like all businesses, you open your doors at the most suitable times for your customers.
You will find the better games next year will be on Saturday afternoons/evenings or Sunday afternoons.
Under the old system, they would have been on a Thursday night.
No more blockbusters on school nights when it's too late to watch on TV, let alone get to a game and fight the traffic or transport hassles on the way home.
There are a couple of good examples in the round one draw, revealed in The Sunday Telegraph.
Arch rivals Manly and Melbourne on a Sunday afternoon will be as good as it gets.
The game-day experience will be so much more appealing than a Thursday night.
Suddenly it becomes a hot-ticket affair and will sell out.
Other examples are the grand final rematches between the Roosters and Raiders. One is a Saturday game, the other a Sunday afternoon match.
Melbourne Storm hosting the Broncos will be on a Saturday night this year.
Normally the Sydney Roosters v South Sydney Rabbitohs grudge match would be played on a Thursday night for the ratings. This year they play in round three and it will be on a Friday night.
The biggest complaints we get from fans every season are about the timing of matches and the fact Channel 9 runs the schedule, not the NRL.
Daytime football is what they love … plus a fair go with ticket and food prices.
This is a much fairer system for all 16 clubs.
Teams like the Raiders, who have had little or no prime-time exposure for their sponsors, will get more Channel 9 matches.
Financial figures leaked over the weekend show the Broncos make an $11.5 million profit from their sponsors. That's because they always get the eyeballs on prime time.
This is compared to a club like the Sea Eagles, who made only $3.1 million from their commercial partners.
It's so much easier to get corporate support when you can show potential sponsors that the size of your audience is bigger than other franchises, like the Broncos do.
Sharing the prime-time spots around the clubs also helps player welfare by cutting the number of five-day turnarounds. The draw will show that tomorrow. It's a win for the fans and the players.
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