A conversation with...
Patrick Delany, CEO FOX SPORTS Australia
What were the key events that brought about the launch of FOX FOOTY in 2012?
When FOXTEL was awarded the rights, I was still at FOXTEL as Head of Subscription Sales. Kim Williams and Peter Campbell drove the negotiations, however I had input about how much the deal could drive sales. The day the agreement was announced, David Malone was at the AFL press conference and I had absolutely no idea that I would end up being the executive responsible for converting the new rights deal into a compelling subscription tv product . We have a marvelous team of producers and executives at FOX SPORTS Melbourne – led by Rod Law. The creation of FOX FOOTY started with a bunch of great ideas that the Melbourne team had as well as an instinctive feel as to the territory that the channel should own and occupy. We then conducted a lot of research to confirm whether these ideas were on track with potential subscribers and our subscribers (consumers). We polled what they wanted from a dedicated channel, how they wanted live games presented and what desire we could create for magazine shows to fill the channel out. We wanted to build on what we have done over the last 5 years but also have a new look, feel and personality – stuff that comes from having premium rights. We ended up with a strawman that out lined our FOX FOOTY brand, its personality, its tone of voice, what shows we needed for what audiences, how we should speak to Australia – especially the southern states, and the look that the channel, its live games and its magazine shows might take on which we took to FOXTEL and AUSTAR for input. There was also a huge amount of discussion around our talent and what we could do to take an already good line up to the next level. Our talent lineup is younger and most of the talent are former players. That brings a technical and playing insight but it also brings a fun element. This version of FOX FOOTY is very strong. It looks and sounds very different to the previous offering. FOX FOOTY was a good channel back in 2OO7 – it did many things very well, but we didn’t have premium rights. Now we do and with the new channel to wrap them in - it’s definitely TV worth paying for.
Who are some of the new faces we can expect to see on the channel?
We are delighted to have Eddie McGuire on board to complement an outstanding team. Eddie brings passion and entertainment to the channel and he will host his own weekly interview-style show on Sunday nights, Eddie McGuire Tonight, as well as calling one game from every round. Once we secured the rights the next step was putting the best people on to bring the story of the AFL season to life. We believe we’ve done that with Eddie and some targeted recruits such as Dermott Brereton who brings expertise but also a level of “unpredictability” which we think compliments the team; and Anthony Hudson, who is right up there alongside best callers in the game. There will also be the nucleus of the team that fans are used to seeing on FOX SPORTS, favourites like Jason Dunstall, Danny Frawley and Gerard Healy. These are some of the greatest players to have ever played the game, which has currency with the fans.
FOX SPORTS leads the way in innovative sports broadcasting. Will we see new innovations on FOX FOOTY?
Our goals for FOX FOOTY are aggressive and there will be some key innovations in both the way we present the games and analysis of the game, as well as news and magazine programming. There will be nine one-hour weekly magazine shows, keeping fans across all aspects of the game from in-depth analysis of games and the key issues to revealing interviews with key AFL identities, giving unprecedented access to the players and the game. We are looking at everything from graphics, to the way we use stats and analysis. Some of the work we are doing is ground-breaking. We’ve moved our Melbourne headquarters to purpose-built HD studios at Global Television, which is fitted with eight permanent HD cameras for all of our studio broadcasts. We’re not just covering the sport from week-to-week, but for every single hour of the day, every day. Within the game we will also innovate – there are many new features, from new camera angles, new cameras, new graphics and analytical tools – you will have to watch the channel once the season starts to see them – we are not letting them out of the bag yet.
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