Australian Free-to-Air Sports Changes Ahead – Pros and Cons

Changes ahead for Australian Free-to-Air Sports, and we discuss the Pros and Cons, plus add to the list of sports that should also leave FTA.

saturday night football in australia

There are big changes looming for Australian Free-to-Air Sports, as the Department of Communications and Arts attempts to justify itself with the Broadcast and Content Reform Package which includes changes to the Anti Siphoning laws that could mean less of your favourite events.

Some may say it’s all good and well for those who have Foxtel and become Fox Sports snobs, of which we are one, not to care about the Australian Free-to-Air Sports Changes. But for most serious sports fans in Australia Fox Sports has been a must for years, as most have given up on being told what they want to see by the commercial networks, or their insistence on aiming at the LCD because they think sports fans in Australia are stupid.

The media reporting of the changes from various websites and the commercial stations and ABC has certainly made it sound like the death of Australian Free-to-Air Sports, but going through the list it seems that might be a long bow.

There will no be changes to the major domestic tournaments (NRL and AFL), and the list of potentially affected sports could probably do with a new home as most have been treated like second hand events anyway.

The following is a list of events that potentially face the chop, and we throw a little commentary their way on our thoughts.


Australian Free-to-Air Sports at risk.

FIFA World Cup

Whilst it will be disappointing if SBS don’t have the entire Football World Cup, if it means heading to pay TV to avoid one of the big commercial networks f###ing it up then that is the price that has to be paid. The commercial networks are only interested in the most exciting Australian clashes, as witnessed by Channel Nein jumping on the Socceroos bandwagon as late and as close to success as possible.

So instead of having them pretend to care about a clash between Algeria and Sweden or any match involving Togo, you can leave it for the experts who will be able to pronounce the names and know more than the number on their back. Picturing Eddie Maguire or Michael Slater in the hosting chair pretending to care sends a chill down the spine.

VERDICT – If it can’t stay fully on SBS, then should be moved to Foxtel to save itself from commercial TV.


Rugby League International Test matches + World Cup

Channel Nein gave up on any of these that weren’t in the prime timeslot, and Channel Seven have banished it to one of their lower channels, so it’s not as if FTA are that interested.

Case in point was the recent International break, where Channel Nein had the rights to the Women’s test. Instead of showing it live on any of their three channels they decided that playing it after 10:30pm after the men’s test was good enough. Typical FTA crying poor about fighting off Pay TV, but if they can’t be arsed showing it live then someone should be able to.

Typical rugby league though for letting it happen. Given the success of the Women’s AFL, Rugby League could have showcased their women’s game with a live Friday night prime timeslot. Instead it was in the timeslot of people who fell asleep on the lounge, and/or those about to head for a big night or those getting in from a big lunch session.

VERDICT – We want to see all of the teams play at Rugby League World Cup, so either FTA show it live or give it to someone who will. Lord knows we’ll probably not get to see the PNG games live for this year’s edition if it solely on FTA.


English FA Cup

Given its timeslot of whatever in the morning, is anyone going to be that disappointed if it goes from FTA.

Any self respecting football fan already has either Fox Sports for the magnificence of BeIn Sports or Optus for the EPL. Or both.


ODI cricket World Cup, T20 cricket World Cup

FTA only want Australian games anyway, and Fox Sports usually cover the scraps so is ready for a move to Pay.

VERDICT – Gone. Less Nein voices the better too.

V8 Supercars Championship races other than Bathurst.

Has been sharing with Fox Sports for a second season, and given the effort put in by Channel Ten for the races they don’t have live rights to, then they don’t really deserve to have anything.

VERDICT – Most serious fans watch it on Fox Sports anyway.


Wimbledon tennis, US Open tennis, some Davis Cup matches, Australian Masters Golf, Australian Open golf, the Masters, international Test netball matches.

VERDICT – Will be a shame to lose some of these from FTA, but by now if you weren’t convinced about spending the $1 a day to have way too much sport than you can watch in a lifetime, then you have to question if sport is just a passing interest.


Australian Free-to-Air Sports that should join them

Having gone through what is likely to be lost, why not add a few more that should join them.


Maybe if Channel Nein got their grubby hands off the 4pm game on a Sunday NRL fans may get to see a team from outside of Sydney more frequently. Yes it is already on Fox Sports, but if Channel Nein pissed off from it we may get a better share.


Current broadcasters and Gurgler Jerks of the Year for 2016 Channel Nein Cricket Commentary are the very worst in their field. The ultimate in self indulgent tripe. Got a Quiz Question? Is the answer one of the commentators. Of course it is and you know it. Memorable moment? Hmmm, should we use Michael Slater or Ian Healy this time? And that’s just to break up the constant banter on how great they were in case the on field action started to distract you from the fact that they all used to play cricket for Australia.

It has got to the point where we avoided the whole Australian summer last season, and are preparing to get the radio ready for this season. A move away from FTA would save it. As is stands Cricket Australia will probably get stuff all out of the next deal as ordinary people don’t care outside of Ashes and real cricket fans can’t stand Nein.

* If Michael Slater of Shane Warne follow the coverage to Fox Sports we’re out.



If only for the reason of not having a broadcast filled with thinly veiled sponsor arrangements, and various Channel 7 stars living the life and pretending to care about horse racing.



No one could have predicted just how bad ABC2’s coverage of the recent Liverpool friendly would be. A prime example of why sometime FTA don’t deserve sport.






About Max Layne 274 Articles
Max has no time for long bios, he has only time for sport and then more sport. Each week he tries to sum up what sport has tickled the collective fancy of The Gurgler.

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