Is live coverage damaging rugby league?

Penrith are playing Brisbane tonight at CUA Stadium (about 10 minutes away from where I live), and I’m staying inside my cosy warm house to watch it live on Channel 9. This is as opposed to paying around $20 and whatever else I’d require for food and drink, and rugging up in pretty cold temperatures.

As I type this I’ve been listening to 2GB’s preview of the game, and apparently the crowd at the ground is rather small with a few minutes left until kickoff. The Continuous Call Team is discussing why, and one such reason is the structure of Friday night games, with a live game shown on Nine at around 7:30pm and another one on delay at 9:30pm. One game used to be played on Fridays up until last year, and was shown on a 1 hour delay at 8:30pm.

Would such reversion to one game on Friday nights, with possibly an extra game played during the day, help bring crowds out of their houses and local watering holes to the grounds? I used to like Saturday afternoon footy back in the days of the State Bank Big Game on Channel 10 in the late 80s/early 90s. Kickoff at 3pm, enough daylight to make it not too cold for spectators, and it could even be restricted to radio broadcasting if desired.

Some may argue that Saturday is the domain of kids’ sport, but I don’t think that it would be detrimental to kids and their own recreational pursuits if planned appropriately. All I know is that if clubs are lamenting small crowds at their games, they should lobby the NRL to consider shifting more games to Saturday afternoons just like the AFL does. Playing up to 5 out of the 8 games each week when the sun’s down just seems a bit old hat, and daytime footy would in my opinion be a bit more conducive to better quality of play, since you wouldn’t have to worry about dew making the ball and the grass slippery.

Go the Panthers!!

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