In a bitter blow for those who enjoy watching contests between teams 11 and 16 in High Definition, the AFL’s Broadcast Partner Channel Seven has chosen not to show the Round Nine match between St Kilda and Collingwood. In the spirit of providing their viewing audience with a variety of options, Channel Seven will broadcast the exact same program as the other FTA channels – the wedding of an English Prince who will never be king to an American actress who will never be a princess.
While we at the Animal Enclosure agree with Titus O’Reilly’s call for Australia to become a Republic as a result, it is a business decision by Seven that is hard to argue with. As much as the AFL is the most watched sport in this country, as much as some might wish otherwise, its popularity fades into insignificance when compared to that of the Royal Family.
While a St Kilda v Collingwood match, the 2010 Grand Final, is the most watched sporting event of the last 10 years, it falls a long way short of the viewer numbers of the most watched program in that time – the wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton. Not convinced by this, and the fact that all the networks would prefer to show the same program rather than potentially miss out, there’s more.
Three of the five most-watched programs in Australian TV history are royal related programs. The opening and closing ceremonies of the Sydney Olympics the odd ones out amongst the Royal Weddings of Charles & Diana, Will and Kate and the funeral of the Princess of Wales. The Australian public’s appetite for all things royal perfectly illustrated in the fact that in 1981, almost 40% of the population tuned in to see Charles and Diana say ‘I do’.
All that said, this particular Australian will be happily in the minority come Saturday night. Rather than swept up like many others in the pump and ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, this correspondent will instead be focused on more important matters. Perched in my Regular Perch at Etihad Stadium blissfully unaware of the goings-on in Windsor desperately urging the Saints on to much-needed victory.