Women’s Footy Outrates Essendon Thrashing, Yet Women Players Still Paid Nothing

The resounding success of the AFL‘s Women’s Exhibition games for 2015 is undeniable. The pair of games contested between representative sides – one from the Melbourne Demons and the other from the Western Bulldogs – produced tight contests that were hotly contested, if not somewhat scrappy, entertaining games that showcased the abilities of some of the country’s best female footballers.

And Channel Seven‘s decision to broadcast this past weekend’s clash has proven not only to be something of a masterstroke, but it’s also delivered a surprising result.
At its peak, the game attracted an average of 175,000 viewers in Melbourne alone – which was a figure that easily placed it in the number one spot for its timeslot.
But unbelievably, not only was that number reasonably high, it far and away eclipsed the average viewing audience for the previous day’s clash between Essendon and Adelaide.
The Crows 112-point demolition of the Bombers was viewed by a Melbourne average of just 114,000 people – some 61,000 people below the mark set by the women’s game.
But whilst the 44 men who ran onto the field for that AFL clash walked away with $3,500 each in individual match payments – a figure that’s paid out on top of their contractually agreed upon base salary – the 44 women who played on Sunday afternoon received precisely nothing, allegedly playing voluntarily and receiving no compensation for their skills and efforts.

This, despite the large TV audience that it brought in for Channel Seven, the added advertising revenue that generated, and the brand exposure for the AFL, the Demons, the Bulldogs, and all their associated corporate sponsors, whose logos were plastered on the uniforms the players wore.
The AFL – and CEO Gillon McLachlan have intimated that they have plans in the works for a fully fledged national women’s league. Though in the wake of this weekend’s game’s success, McLachlan has made some attempts to douse enthusiasm for the idea, stating it’s more likely to be seen in 2017 at the earliest due to what he calls “budgetary” reasons.
Regardless, for the virtual bonus exposure and broadcasting boon the match gifted both the AFL and Channel Seven, you’d think it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to allocate a few thousand dollars (from a billion dollar organisation, mind you) to ensure our elite female players get actually paid for their time.
The Demons, for the record, extended their dominance over the Bulldogs in the ongoing exhibition series, squeezing out a thrilling four point victory – 6.4 (40) to 5.6 (36).
Photo: Darrian Traynor via Getty Images.