Analysis: Before the Game to be handballed?

Today network Ten stated that they would not buy any games off Channel Seven for the 2012 season. This leaves a number of shows and network personalities up in the air.

Many are writing off personalities such as Stephen Quartermaine, Robert Walls, Tim Lane, Anthony Hudson, Michael Christian and Malcolm Blight as being out of a job, however this is not entirely true.

Stephen Quartermaine will surely remain with the network
co-presenting the 5:00 news in Melbourne.

The rest of their futures at Ten look shaky, though.

But the big question mark lingers over Ten’s Before the Game. At this stage, it could go one of three ways;

One: it stays at Ten in its current timeslot- it will still be able to be called Before the Game, as it will air before the 7:30 match on Seven.

Any doubts of having an AFL show on a non-AFL network will surely be dispelled by the fact that Channel Nine has been able to maintain the success of the Footy Show despite not having AFL rights for many years.

It rates well for Ten, constantly challenging Australia’s Funniest Home Videos and often winning its time-slot, so they will want to keep it.

Two: it jumps over to Channel Seven. Seven are reportedly in talks with Roving Enterprises, and it would fit very nicely on their Saturday night schedule.

They would also be able to secure most of the personalities on the panel; Mick Molloy isn’t tied to Ten, nor is Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann, Samantha Lane or Andrew Maher.

The problem lies in the fact that Dave Hughes is tied to the 7pm project, a now fixture of the Ten schedule, and he is one of the show’s main draws.

However, Seven could easily fill the void with Peter Helliar, the bloke they sacked last year as part of The Bounce- and someone who probably would like a high-paying regular commercial TV job again.

It would also give Seven that primetime AFL show that they have desperately wanted for so many years to complement their primetime AFL games.

And of course the third option is that Channel Ten lets the show go with the football rights, which is entirely possible. It has always advertised BTG in conjunction with the match following it, and it might see BTG as being an irregularity in its schedule.

After all, its focus now seems to be on news and semi-edgy current affairs, Masterchef, its stable of US dramas and serious Aussie dramas.

After all, it did ditch the concept of its digital channel One as a sports channel after abysmal ratings.

And speaking of One, it also brings up the point of its three other AFL shows; One Week at a Time, The Game Plan and The Final Siren.

Of the three, OWAAT has been running the longest- it is now in its third year and features Luke Darcy, Robert Walls and Stephen Quartermaine.

The other two shows have premiered this year, and while at the start of the year, it seemed as if Ten was beefing up its AFL content output, as well as adding more home-grown programs to One’s then sport dominated line-up, now pose an immense problem for Ten on both fronts.

Ten could- and probably will- cut all three very easily, and not many people would bat an eyelid, however they do offer alternative viewpoints and are mildly entertaining- there’s just nothing that puts OWAAT near Nine’s Footy Classified (both player, team and issue analysis shows), or The Final Siren near The Sunday Footy Show (both recap shows). The Game Plan is also only for extremely devoted footy fans.

But if its any consolation, OWAAT was the most entertaining of the three.

Of course, needless to say, the Fifth Quarter is done for (the show that aired after Saturday night AFL matches)… So say goodbye to the “Saturday Specials”.

So, I’m hopeful that Ten will hang on to Before the Game, but wouldn’t give much hope to the rest of them, as Ten would likely see this as an opportunity to make a clean break from the sports format of One (and possibly relaunch the Channel with a better, more distinctive logo).

And as for their hosts, I wouldn’t feel too bad for them, they all have second jobs either on the radio or in newspapers to fall back on (with people like Luke Darcy having not only a breakfast show but a weekend calling gig). If only we all had that luxury!

But I hope that this abrupt ending to Ten’s long commitment to AFL doesn’t undermine the great work it did over the years.

At least they broadcast some of their games live, unlike Seven, who try to delay airing their matches every chance they get. They also took their football seriously, and played up rivalries and big matches to great effect.

But most importantly, though it may be a contradiction, they never took the football too seriously, with the calling team establishing a good rapport over the years.

It will definitely be interesting to see how this one unfolds… Stay tuned… Play on…

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Posted on June 24, 2011, in Australian TV Shows, US TV Shows and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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