Sunday night television is set for a football revolution with the AFL to trial up to three prime-time games on Channel Seven for the first time in that timeslot in 2014.
The move means that next year's home-and-away season will feature 7.40pm games on five of the seven week nights from Thursday night through until Monday night with the Sunday night fixture seen by the league as a long-term prospect - preferable and more practical than Monday night.
While the finishing touches are being administered to the 2014 schedule, Fairfax Media understands Collingwood should be involved in at least one of the Sunday night Channel Seven games with West Coast tentatively scheduled to play North Melbourne at Subiaco on Sunday night (Melbourne time), June 1, as part of Western Australia's public holiday weekend.
Sunday night football has been regarded as an attractive proposition by the game's governing body given the relative dearth of quality free-to-air programming on a night once regarded as a weekly ratings high point.
AFL clubs were warned in a recent meeting of the 18 chief executives to expect some experimental fixturing in 2014 with the introduction of two byes, the early start to the season and the need to combat rival football codes. Round one sees Carlton host Port Adelaide on the Sunday night of the Melbourne Grand Prix weekend although that game is expected to be shown on Fox Footy.
Both the Seven Network and the AFL remained tight-lipped on Monday about Sunday night football but it is believed at least two and potentially three of Seven's 3.20pm Sunday games will be moved next season to 7.40pm. Neither Seven boss Lewis Martin nor AFL executive Simon Lethlean would comment on the new football timeslot, which will be unveiled on Thursday.
The AFL also looked at scheduling two Sunday twilight games at Geelong's Simonds Stadium but at the Cats' request reduced that to one - a round-16 clash between Geelong and the Western Bulldogs.
Seven had been unhappy in 2013 with the AFL's move to feature blockbuster games on Fox Footy - notably the Collingwood-Richmond clash at the MCG in round-four and the Collingwood-Essendon game in round-19.
The two AFL broadcasters were still waiting for final confirmation of the breakdown of games on Monday, although Seven was understood to have been more satisfied with its allocation.
The free-to-air AFL broadcaster was also looking to expand its Friday night football telecast, bringing forward its pre-game coverage from 7.30 to 7pm, a move that will further encroach on the Friday radio audience.
While the Blues have again been handed a generous prime-time fixture of at least six Friday night games, along with two Thursdays and one Monday night clash, another big prime-time winner next season is North Melbourne, which is expected to feature in five Friday night games - two more than 2013 and four more than 2012.