By Gifford Lee
Pubs and clubs across Australia have taken to the all new AFL channel on Fox Sports like a boot to ball, with the broadcaster saying their technicians are run off their feet trying to meet the demand before it goes live in February.
Announced last year, Fox Footy – a 24/7, AFL dedicated channel – makes its mark on the pay television network when NAB Cup matches start on Friday, 17th February and then into the AFL season proper in March. The channel will broadcast every match of every round live throughout the season as well as presenting exclusive analysis shows, with Eddie McGuire spearheading proceedings.
Ben Campbell, Head of Commercial at Fox Sports, said the level of interest in the channel was huge, partly because the broadcaster is offering the first season for free to venue customers who upgrade their sports package to a high definition service.
“The number of venue customers subscribing to the Fox Footy channel has been beyond our expectations considering there is still three weeks to go until the NAB Cup starts,” he said.
“As a result, our technicians are working seven days a week at the moment to keep up with demand in an effort to get all the HD equipment installed in time.”
Campbell added the new channel’s content had been the driving force behind venues signing on.
“Having every match of every round live, uninterrupted siren to siren and in stunning HD gives a venue’s customers all the more reason to get to their local to watch their favourite team.”
Venues themselves have said the channel will be a “must have”.
Tony Furnari, manager of the South Oakley Club in Melbourne, said he expected the channel would result in a win-win situation – for fans and venues alike.
“The added element of live matches will draw members or patrons in to the venue to watch the action and then, hopefully, benefit from the services we offer,” he said.
“It’s supply and demand. We needed to take on the channel because people simply want to watch the footy. It was a must have.”
The AFL Season Package, which features Fox Footy, will also include two bonus channels – SPEED and ESPN2. If venues don’t upgrade to an HD package, or one of a number of entertainment options on offer, the cost of subscribing to Fox Footy will be $149 per month (excluding GST).
“Offering Speed and ESPN2 as part of the Fox Footy package gives added sports content to our venues which in turn keeps the tills ringing and patrons spending both more time and more money in venues,” Campbell said.
The broadcaster is offering its sports subscribers, who hadn’t yet upgraded to HD, a fortnight’s free access to Fox Footy from 5.00pm on Friday, 17th February which will include the first six games of the NAB Cup live.