The AFLW‘s final round of the season is shaping as not just one of the most interesting rounds in AFLW history, but in recent footy memory period. Five teams remain within reasonable striking distance of the top two spots on the ladder and thus a berth in the AFLW Grand Final, and the marquee match of the weekend sees current first and second place holders Western Bulldogs and Melbourne squaring off for the right to host the GF on home turf.
There hasn’t been a bigger and more important regular season game in the AFLW’s short history. But as far as Channel Seven is seemingly concerned, it’s still not worth paying much attention to.
The women’s league chief broadcaster has already shown a staggering lack of respect for the league – which is in its second year – running next-to-no advertising to promote its broadcasts of the game, and shunting games off the main channel in favour of putting them on multi-channel 7Mate.
And while in the middle of the season, with AFLM pre-season games taking up broadcasting space, the network might’ve been able to lean on quasi-viable reasons for diminishing the visibility of the women’s game in a time where it sorely needs it, this weekend the excuse well has run well and truly dry.
This weekend’s Bulldogs vs Melbourne game – which is, we cannot stress this enough, a top-of-the-table clash with direct Grand Final implications – is being broadcast on 7Mate once again, with the only HD offering being a simulcast on cable channel Fox Footy.
After 6 rounds, it all comes down to this Saturday at VU Whitten Oval 💥 Don’t miss @BulldogsW vs. @melbournefc in a must-win final round to keep their #AFLWGF dreams alive! ✊ 7:10pm EDT 📺: 7mate & Fox Footy (Aus wide) 📱: live stream on the AFLW Official App 👌 #AFLWDogsDees pic.twitter.com/CFXm4zvxtI
— AFL Women’s (@aflwomens) March 14, 2018
The game takes place on Saturday night at 7:10pm, right in the middle of broadcasting prime time.
There are no men’s AFL games this weekend to draw Seven’s attention away; the AFLM pre-season has concluded, and the league is on a one-week break before the regular season begins on March 22nd.
Despite this, Seven still refuses to grant the AFLW – arguably the premiere women’s domestic sporting league in Australia – the main channel time of day.
Instead, while this vitally important clash is airing on 7Mate, Seven’s main channel will be airing the 2016 adaptation of The Jungle Book instead.
It’s a piss-poor decision and a significant missed opportunity for the network to capitalise on the game’s inherent built-in drama to build interest in both the game and, in turn, grow their own audience. And it’s one that’s sadly endemic of the network’s overall attitude to the women’s game; one that treats the game less as a celebration of everything great about the sport, and more as an annoying obligation.
The women’s game more than deserves a genuine fair go. As it stands, the Seven Network isn’t giving it one.