The 1987 TV Rights Saga (now with bonus 1957-1986)

The_Wookie

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Background

The Victorian Football Leagues Television rights with Channel Seven expired after the 1986 Grand Final, and the VFL opened up the rights to bidders and were expecting a significant increase in the rights from the $3.3 million paid for the 1986 season by the Seven Network due to the expansion into Perth and Brisbane the following year. Seven had been the leagues main broadcasters for nine years, and had been broadcast VFL since 1957.

The 1987 Rights

The VFL were surprised when Seven offered no increase on the rights for 1987, staying firm on $3.3 million for the 1987 season (Football Limited pg 163) – Ross Oakley says 3.4 million (The Phoenix Rises pg 85). The league did not believe a 13% increase was enough, and the VFL decided to try other stations, but no interest was forthcoming from the Nine or Ten networks. After a couple of weeks, the league went back to Seven only to be told they had taken too long to consider the offer – evidently a two week deadline – and it was now being reduced to $3 million a season. (Football Limited pg 167).

Ross Oakley and the VFL Commission were convinced a deal had been done amongst the networks to keep off each others turf, and this included Sevens hold on the VFL tv rights. On December 1st, Oakley reported that there would be no bids coming from Nine or Ten, and that Seven and the ABC had some concerns with the tender conditions. It was decided to seek advice from Kerry Packer and Channel Nine (The Phoenix Rises, pg 86). Packer reportedly told Peter Scanlon that the VFL should warehouse the rights for a year and not commit to anyone for more than a year (Football Limited pg 169).

In December 1986, the VFL and Broadcom anounced they had signed a deal for $24.5 million over six years, with Broadcom to onsell TV rights.. The deal included profit sharing up to $24.55 million. If sales didnt reach $4 million a year, the VFL would likely lose money. Seven had offered $3 million a season, but were unsuccessful. However Seven would continue to show the preseaon Panasonic Cup.Sportsplay had offered $5 million a year for the rights, but like Seven, had failed.

VFL Commissioners Peter Scanlon, and Graeme Samuel had financial interests in Broadcom, a fact Ross Oakley says the Commission was aware of, and that the two were absent from any deliberations in the TV rights. This caused some tension between the AFL, and the Herald and Weekly Times which railed against it. (The Phoenix Rises pg 99)

In January, it was reported that Seven were refusing to negotiate with Broadcom, and the Nine and Ten networks werent interested in bidding. Sportsplay, who had failed in their bid for the rights, announced they would bid for the rights to show the games into clubs and pubs via sattelite. Sky Channel and Superstation also expressed an interest.

A week after the announcement by the League, a dispute emerged over international rights, with Active Marketing claiming they had exclusive access to the international rights of VFL programs for the following three years.

On January 28th, 1987, Seven Network (Melbourne) manager Ron Casey offered the VFL $2 million for the 1987 Victorian rights, but later withdrew them, signing instead a deal for $1.4 million, while still broadcasting the preseason competition. (The Phoenix Rises pg 95, Football Limited pg 176). However, Seven was soon sold to Fairfax, and on March 13, the league announced the Seven deal for 1987 had collapsed (The Phoenix Rises pg 96). The league then turned to the ABC which signed on for $1.6 million (Note that Football Limited says it was slightly less than 1.5 million)

In February 1987, Sportsplay and the VFL came to a disagreement over the broadcasting of live VFL into country Victoria. Ross Oakley confirmed that the VFL had guaranteed the Victorian Country Football League that live broadcasts were not on the table for country Victoria.

The 1987 Broadcast Deals

Broadcom secured the rights to VFL broadcasts for$24.55 million over six years. This included $3.5 million in the first year, plus an upfront payment of $1.3 million. (The Phoenix Rises pg. 88)

The ABC secured the rights to broadcast in Victoria for $1.5 million. (Ross Oakley says 1.6 million.) The deal included:
  • Replays between 5pm and 7pm on Saturdays
  • Live coverage of matches outside Victoria on Sundays.
  • Replays of Sunday matches in NSW on Sunday evenings.
  • In Canberra, the ABC would show highlights of Friday night and Saturdays at 10am on Sundays, and highlights of Sunday matches at 10.30pm on Sunday.
In addition
Sportsplay Television Systems paid $3.5 million, through Broadcom, for exclusive rights to matches outside of Melbourne into Hotels and clubs., this included 23 Saturday games, 18 Friday games and 4 monday night matches.

Post 1987 Media Rights

Christopher Skase purchased Seven from Fairfax in late 1987. In September 1987, Broadcom were reportedly entertaining an offer of $6 million for the 1988 season, with Seven confirming they had lodged a bid, but not the amount.

The ABC took out an injunction to prevent the sale of media rights by Broadcom for the 1988 season. This injunction was lifted on October 1.

The final 1988 deal with Seven was for $5.5 million plus $1 million in contra per year. In 1993 it was $12.5 million a year, up to $18.5 million a year (+$2.9 million contra) in 1997). In 2001, it was $33 million a year + 4.5 million contra. (The Phoenix Rises pg 104)

References
 

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thatwasmymistake

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe SAS 10 held some rights in Adelaide and TVQ 0 in Brisbane. I presume this was the Sportsplay coverage.

Seven also had the 1987 Brownlow telecast.
 

The_Wookie

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe SAS 10 held some rights in Adelaide and TVQ 0 in Brisbane. I presume this was the Sportsplay coverage.

Seven also had the 1987 Brownlow telecast.
I couldnt find any media or book references to who Broadcom sold FTA rights to in Adelaide, Perth or Brisbane for the season. Sportsplay had Sattelite rights to clubs and pubs though
 

wagstaff

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Ch 7 were incredibly short-sighted in the 1986/87 period as the strength of footy as a TV product was increasing with the introduction of Friday night games plus the Swans playing on Sunday afternoons every fortnight. It seems they reacted to the downturn in crowds in the 1982-85 period and didn't see the bigger picture.
 

Rabman

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Anyone know what the ratings were for the ABC in 87. Certainly know that it massively affected seven that year and they were desperate to get them back.
 

thatwasmymistake

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Anyone know what the ratings were for the ABC in 87.
I've had a poke around and found a couple of Green Guides from 87 but no mention of ratings. From memory ratings were reported when they were big and worthy of reporting. The Herald Sun guide began to publish ratings regularly in the early 90s.
 

Rabman

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Reading Ross's book, Ted Thomas played a big role in the saga. Ross described him as "notoriously Sydney-centric" he didn't rate the VFL at all. Fenton warned Thomas about losing the football saying "the switchboard would blow up". He was right, 1987 ratings were a disaster for seven in Melbourne.
 

thatwasmymistake

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He was right, 1987 ratings were a disaster for seven in Melbourne.
1987 was a shocking year for HSV. They also gave Man Walden the arse from the news. For years he was proud to say the ratings which followed were asterisks. And World of Sport finished for the Sydney produced Sporrsworld.

Here's a 60 Minutes reports on the fall out

 

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LightTower4

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ABC did a great job in 1987.
Loved 'A pleasant Sunday morning' with 1.50 hours of replays from the day before with no ads.
These were the days when live footy on the telly was a rarity. Swans and Grand Final only.
Still have 'The Winners' on a VHS tape somewhere with the Round 22 episode.
 

Frank Gallagher

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Got anything from say 79-84 Wookie? I remember we used to get around a qtr-half of one game and highlights of the others on saturday night, the coverage was appalling, wasn't there a season during that period when we got no coverage at all?
 

The_Wookie

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Got anything from say 79-84 Wookie? I remember we used to get around a qtr-half of one game and highlights of the others on saturday night, the coverage was appalling, wasn't there a season during that period when we got no coverage at all?
Heres all Ive been able to find references for

1950s

The league agreed to allow all three metropolitan Melbourne stations to show the last quarter of matches, and the league received 500 pounds for this in 1958. However, league attendances plummeted, and the league decided not to continue.

1960's
  • 1960 – the VFL rejects an offer of 14,000 pounds to broadcast the last quarter and replays
  • 1961 - TV stations no longer permitted to show live telecasts or replays. Replay of Grand Final allowed in last-minute deal. Crowds rose by 360,000 over the course of the year.
  • 1962 - TV stations now permitted to show replays of VFL matches. Any station could do so for 600 pounds. At one stage during the 60's, every TV station in Melbourne was showing a replay on Sunday night, including the ABC.
1971 - 1975

Channel 7 and the ABC pay $200,000 per year for Television replays.

1976 - 1980

At the end of 1976 (the year in which colour television was introduced in Australia), the VFL entered a five-year agreement with ABC and HSV giving them the replay rights for home and-away games for approximately $3 million or $600,000 a year; compared with $200,000 for each of the previous five years. In 1977, the VFL received another $200,000 from HSV for the revamped
night series at VFL Park - called the Amco Cup after the major sponsor. In 1977 the Grand Final was televised live for the first time. The VFL received another $100,000 for that and, since the
match was drawn for the first time in VFL history, for the replay as well.

In all, in 1977 the VFL received close to $1 million for the broadcast rights of its games, a substantial amount when it is considered that the annual club turnover at this time was about $700,000 (although, when distributed twelve ways, it provides only $80,000 to each club) .

1981-1983

In 1981, the Ten Network puts in a substantial bid totalling $2.26 million per year, with News Limited also promising much support for the Swans in Sydney via the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror. However Seven put in a higher bid of 2.85m in the first year, topping out at 3.4 million in 1984.

At the end of this deal, The newly formed VFL Commission discovered that there had never been a formal contract with Seven Melbourne in the first place, the league had essentially a gentlemens agreement with Ron Casey.

According to " The Economic Development of the Victorian Football League 1960-1984 " (RK Stewart)

The popularity of VFL matches is also reflected in the television viewing habits of Melbourne residents. On 21 July 1980, 26% of all households with television receivers were tuned to Channel 7's "Big League", an evening replay of three afternoon VFL matches.

At the same time, another 7% of television sets were tuned to Channel 2's evening replay. The Sterling Cup, a mid-week knock out competition featuring predominantly VFL clubs and a few South Australian and Western Australian league clubs, has consistently achieved impressive rating figures.1 The match of Tuesday 26 July, 1983 (a final) rated 28. The 1983 VFL ratings climaxed in September when the Grand Final was televised live. It peaked at 52. Few other television sports can match the popularity of VFL football.
References

 

Frank Gallagher

Diamond Encrusted Unobtainium Premium Member
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Heres all Ive been able to find references for

1950s

The league agreed to allow all three metropolitan Melbourne stations to show the last quarter of matches, and the league received 500 pounds for this in 1958. However, league attendances plummeted, and the league decided not to continue.

1960's
  • 1960 – the VFL rejects an offer of 14,000 pounds to broadcast the last quarter and replays
  • 1961 - TV stations no longer permitted to show live telecasts or replays. Replay of Grand Final allowed in last-minute deal. Crowds rose by 360,000 over the course of the year.
  • 1962 - TV stations now permitted to show replays of VFL matches. Any station could do so for 600 pounds. At one stage during the 60's, every TV station in Melbourne was showing a replay on Sunday night, including the ABC.
1971 - 1975

Channel 7 and the ABC pay $200,000 per year for Television replays.

1976 - 1980

At the end of 1976 (the year in which colour television was introduced in Australia), the VFL entered a five-year agreement with ABC and HSV giving them the replay rights for home and-away games for approximately $3 million or $600,000 a year; compared with $200,000 for each of the previous five years. In 1977, the VFL received another $200,000 from HSV for the revamped
night series at VFL Park - called the Amco Cup after the major sponsor. In 1977 the Grand Final was televised live for the first time. The VFL received another $100,000 for that and, since the
match was drawn for the first time in VFL history, for the replay as well.

In all, in 1977 the VFL received close to $1 million for the broadcast rights of its games, a substantial amount when it is considered that the annual club turnover at this time was about $700,000 (although, when distributed twelve ways, it provides only $80,000 to each club) .

1981-1983

In 1981, the Ten Network puts in a substantial bid totalling $2.26 million per year, with News Limited also promising much support for the Swans in Sydney via the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror. However Seven put in a higher bid of 2.85m in the first year, topping out at 3.4 million in 1984.

At the end of this deal, The newly formed VFL Commission discovered that there had never been a formal contract with Seven Melbourne in the first place, the league had essentially a gentlemens agreement with Ron Casey.

According to " The Economic Development of the Victorian Football League 1960-1984 " (RK Stewart)



References

Thanks mate, it's amazing what a set of lights and a flexible fixture can do eh? Night football IMO paved the way for us.
 

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