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ABC dumps live W-League coverage


Lee Gaskin

No longer shown live ... ABC TV have scrapped live TV coverage of the W-League.

No longer shown live ... ABC TV have scrapped live TV coverage of the W-League. Photo: Getty Images

Television coverage of Australia’s two main women’s national league competitions has been cut in half, but the sporting organisations affected are confident it will result in increased exposure.

In a move which will affect Canberra’s most successful sporting team, the Canberra Capitals, and reigning W-League champions Canberra United, the WNBL and the W-League will be broadcast in back-to-back one-hour highlights packages on ABC1, as opposed to live games or full match replays which have been shown in previous seasons.

Live games will still be available online on the ABC’s website, with the W-League also streamed on the Football Federation Australia’s website.

While admitting the chances of returning to live coverage in future years would be slim, Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid was relieved the W-League is still on free to air television, a luxury a lot of other women’s sports don’t have.

‘‘The most important thing is that we’ve got TV coverage,’’ Reid said.

‘‘It’s always disappointing if you lose something, and getting it back (a live game) will be difficult, but we haven’t lost a whole lot.

‘‘We have to take the game to a broader market and deliver something for our sponsors and for those fans that can’t get to the game.’’

Federal member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly vented his frustration at the decision to scrap the live broadcast of W-League games.

‘‘Outrageous. It was better than the A League!,’’ he tweeted.

Viewership numbers for the W-League have steadily declined since the competition’s introduction in 2008.

An initial average television audience of 115,000 in the debut season slumped to 70,000 last year - a drop of nearly 40 per cent.

That has been largely attributed to the explosion in additional free-to-air digital television channels.

A spokesperson for Football Federation Australia said the decision was made in conjunction with the ABC after the figures were taken into account.

‘‘We made a decision to get more viewers and more awareness to the sport in what is possibly a better timeslot,’’ the spokesperson said.

‘‘We wouldn’t have done it unless we saw value in it.

‘‘While for the football purist it may not be the ideal, because they want to see the full 90 minutes of the match, this will be a one-hour package which will be more exciting for fans of the game who are non-traditionalists.’’

An ABC spokesperson said the decision to put the W-League and the WNBL on a ‘‘slight delay’’ was no different to Channel Nine/WIN TV’s coverage of Sunday afternoon NRL.

‘‘There is no one more committed to promoting women’s sport than the ABC,’’ the spokesperson said.

‘‘The ABC is determined to ensure that as many people as possible are exposed to women’s sport on ABC 1 - particularly the target audience of young women and families.

‘‘The format of the telecast will be 60 minutes in order to remove timeouts, half times etc and all finals will be live and in full on ABC 1.’’

The draw for the upcoming W-League season hasn’t been released, but it’s understood Canberra United will open the season with a grand final rematch against the Brisbane Roar at McKellar Park on October 20.

The Canberra Capitals kickoff their WNBL campaign on October 6.


  • Bummer for the w-league.... but now we have an even better reason to go and watch the games live at the ground!! Bring on the new season, go you greens.

    Stir the pot
    Date and time
    August 16, 2012, 1:04PM
    • Very disappointing -:
      - sends wrong message with reduced coverage of women's sport and football (soccer);
      - 1 hour coverage will include 5+ mins commentator and interview intro/exit and 5 mins highlights from other games. Leaves 50 mins highlights for 90+ minute game
      - Women's ABC Sat afternoon - W-League following WNBL live. What is happening to WNBL?

      Fan - Utd and ABC!
      Date and time
      August 16, 2012, 1:14PM
      • you probably only need 1 minute for the "highlights".

        Date and time
        August 16, 2012, 3:18PM
    • even the ABC needs some viewers for a program

      Date and time
      August 16, 2012, 1:23PM
      • Absolutely right, why waste scarce resources (i.e. money) on something which is watched by virtually no-one. Mind you, the current version of the ABC doesn't seem to have much to offer, virtually everything being shown has been shown before. Why the hell they waste money on having four TV channels when the rarely seem to show something new is beyond me, but than, I guess that is why they show so many repeats, they spend too much of their money multi-casting and not enough on original programming.

        Date and time
        August 16, 2012, 2:16PM
    • It's truly a sad state of affairs when the national broadcaster succumbs to the lure of ratings. The FTA offerings on a Saturday afternoon is bleak at best and was a highlight for football fans with an interest in ladies football. Perhaps a little awareness marketing to the thousands of football clubs, who in turn have tens of thousands of girls/women players who in turn, turn up each weekend to play the game, might have paid ratings dividends.

      With 4 digital channels at their disposal, you would think that they would be able to accommodate the broadcast. I suppose we'll get a another encore episode of something or other in its place.

      Shame on you ABC!

      Date and time
      August 16, 2012, 3:14PM
      • Its a rubbish product that nobody watches. I am glad that my tax dollars are not being wasted on this anymore.

        I mean, the Matildas couldn't even qualify for the Olympics - as the socceroos showed this morning, Australian soccer is in decline and women's soccer is declining even faster than the mens game.

        Well done ABC for finally listening to the people.

        Date and time
        August 16, 2012, 4:08PM
        • Steve - what rubbish.
          How does not qualifying for the Olympics invalidate the W League? Only twelve nations could participate. Does this mean those not present don't warrant attention? the W League is the premier competition for a sport played by many females, and that alone warrants media attention.

          Zjonn - best you stick to the commercials - sounds like it would suit you better. The ABC is doing fine. It is entirely unreasonable to expect original programming at all times, year round, for any station. None have ever done it, but it provides a chance for some to snide. Pathetic.

          Date and time
          August 16, 2012, 4:32PM
        • @ Steve - why so much ire? There isn't the money (ie advertising) in it for the commercials, so these "lesser" sports need to be televised by ABC/SBS if at all.
          My daughter plays "women's soccer" and loves it. It has better participant numbers than AFL, NRL and Rugby combined for the over-20's. Their comp has 8 grades!
          So do netball and lawn bowls (though sadly depleted) have high participation numbers. The ABC has already killed off it's coverage of Lawn Bowls - though why on earth they televised it at 5pm on a Saturday when all the bowlers and their mates are still at the club massively bemused me. The commercials have got hold of netball and televise in sensible slots on the secondary station. I personally don't watch women's basketball but wish them well and hope their tv keeps happening - very cheap hours by the way.
          All in all it's good to see the women having a good old fashioned go. We should support them, not try to death-ride them.

          Date and time
          August 16, 2012, 5:00PM
      • Belco Soccer Club may double its patronage

        Date and time
        August 16, 2012, 6:23PM

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