With the summer sports season now in full swing, one does not have to look far to see that high level sport in this country – even in summer – is as much about being a TV product as it is about the competition itself.
The upcoming schedules for two of the three major sports of the Australian summer – cricket and tennis – bear this out.
Starting on December 15 with the opening night of the 1st Day/Night Test to be played in Brisbane between Australia and Pakistan, there will be some form of live cricket – either a day/night test match or a one day international or a Twenty20 Big Bash game – in prime time at night on free to air television for an incredible 41 out of the next 45 nights until the Big Bash Final on January 28.
This includes a string of live cricket matches every night on free to air TV from Boxing Night (December 26) until January 22…..that’s 28 nights in a row of cricket!
Not to be outdone, tennis’s run starts with the opening night of the Hopman Cup on New Year’s Night (January 1), before going through to the Australian Open Men’s Singles Final on January 29.
Between the Hopman Cup, the Brisbane and Sydney Internationals followed by the Australian Open, that’s 28 out of 29 nights of live tennis on free to air TV in prime time through January.
That’s enough to send some households into heaven – and others for the divorce courts!
And this is where the summer’s third major sport – football (soccer) – still lags behind.
Clearly, with only one A-League game live on free to air a week – and on SBS’s secondary channel at that – the goal for Football Federation Australia for their next rights deal due to be drawn up at the end of this season is to get more games on free to air to match the monolithic coverage that Cricket and Tennis enjoys.
One other thing – how does such blanket coverage lend to viewers becoming participants – or even merely getting out to watch the games live or even just getting out of the house?
That is another debate for another day.
Next month, we look back at the Olympic Games year that was – and the year ahead.
See you at the game…….or in front of the TV screen!!!