That's because Collingwood and Richmond are successful. AFL would be having a crisis meeting if Richmond and Collingwood weren't successful. Success = increase in ratings + crowds + memberships.All valid points but you do realise that your last paragraph is meaningless right.
As you get older you wil care less and less but you will be replaced by younger people who do care.
They have more members and viewers now than ever before.
They are ruining the game but they have never been so popular.
Quoting numbers from an era with successful big VIC clubs doesn't disprove my arguments. Richmond alone increased 30K in memberships within 1 year of winning a premiership. Those two along with Essendon's resilience are carrying the bulk of the ratings/crowds. They are the top 3 for tv ratings and crowds nationally. Remember, Richmond's core in particular was assembled pre-GWS/GC/academy era. That's currently ageing. There's no way Richmond will be able to compete with the talent GWS have in 5-10 years. That's the issue. The true effects won't be seen now. It'll be seen in 5 years.
In terms of Melbourne viewership, the grand final didn't even crack 1 million.
Sustained mediocrity will also eventually diminish the crowds and tv audience. If Essendon and Carlton don't improve, fan engagement will drop when Richmond and Collingwood eventually go down. Carlton is probably the best case-study of what can happen if the northern clubs are continuously propped up at the expense of everyone else. They went from a ratings + crowd powerhouse earlier this decade to literally bottom 5 in viewership competition-wide on aggregate. A little bit better from a crowd's perspective, but nothing huge. Essendon, one of the clubs that hold up AFL's viewership/crowds, is heading the exact same way.
It's fine if it is an even playing field. If however teams like Essendon, Carlton, St Kilda and North Melbourne are continuously affected by compromised drafts, then it's going to make things hard for those clubs to gain any sort of momentum over their counterparts.
Academy selections essentially re-introduces the priority picks that Hawthorn, Collingwood and Carlton enjoyed in the mid 2000s, except without the need to tank or finish bottom of the ladder. Instead of the truly bad clubs getting the best talent, the grand finalist does.