Broadcast inequality in Australian football

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Communication and Sport, 2016, 4 (2), pp. 187 - 211
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© The Author(s) 2014. The Australian sporting landscape is characterised by centralised broadcasting agreements that leave individual clubs at the mercy of league and broadcaster objectives in determining the nature and degree of their broadcast exposure. As a by-product, the potential exists for variances in television coverage between clubs that may result in significant economic disparity. This article endeavours to quantify this variance and discuss the related management implications of findings by analysing television ratings for a sample of 2,297 Australian Football League and National Rugby League fixtures played between 2007 and 2011. The article concludes that there is significant variance in the coverage provided and corresponding cumulative audience exposure of clubs within both leagues that was likely to impact sponsorship desirability and ability to engage fans. Notably, there was distinct favouritism shown towards those traditionally perceived as “powerhouse” clubs. The degree to which free-to-air broadcasts and finals matches deliver superior audience outcomes to subscription-only telecasts and regular season matches was also quantified.
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