Sport, the monster that feeds TV

Round one of t

he 2014

AFL competition is on this weekend, and will be up against round two of the NRL premiership, which started last week.

Also being played this weekend is round 23 of the 2013-14 A-League season. That's the soccer for many sport fans in this country, but obviously football to the true believers of the round ball game.

But wait, there's more: 2014 Super rugby is also going around this weekend, acrosss three countries, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

The four major football codes in other words are in full swing, but don't for a second think that's the end of sport being played this wekend or any weekend for that matter, in any part of the Earth you'd like to mention.

For instance, there's a game of cricket being played every day of the week somewhere on the planet.

You get the picture, I'm sure, and we haven't even mentioned the goliath of sport, good old US of A and the other behemoth, major European soccer leagues.

So what is the point of all this, I hear you ask.

Well, it's a chicken and egg story, maybe.

Is so much sport being played to fill up airtime on the TV screens of the planet, or has TV just provided more and more airtime as sports activity has increased over the past 60-70 years?

If you think about it for a few minutes, what hits you is the obvious point that the answer is a lot more complicated than you may have thought.

That's because life wasn't meant to be easy, boyo, I hear you say, again.

One thing you can say for certain is that Pay TV, while not created exclusively to show sport, its backers would have imagined many, many sport channels as part of this new world.

Free to air TV has also ramped up its coverage of sport over the past 40 years.

Remember how cricket used to be covered by the ABC in the 1970s with two cameras, one each behind the bowler's arm. But once Kerry Packer and Channel 9 got in on the act, there's no doubt a TV revolution was under way from 1977 onwards. I think it's closer to 20 cameras now.

Fast forward to today and think how far TV coverage of sport has come since 1977, if we make that year zero.

The panoramic views offered by large flat screens are just incredible, and make you feel you're sitting at the stands inside the stadium instead o the comfort of your lounge.

Of course now you can also stop the play, pause, rewind,  and so on, making sport a massive interactive experience. Just about the only thing a sport fan can do with his TV is determine the final score, but who can say what will happen 100 years from now? 

The sports, especially the football codes, have obviously seen the potential for revenue raising and over the years responded accordingly. New competitions are shooting up just about every year in sports as varied as motor racing and netball. TV has a voracious appetite.

So, no, I must admit it wasn't a chicken or the egg evolution, it was a bit of this from TV and a bit of that from the sports themselves.

Obviously being on TV, especially free to air, is big, big money, and you saw the triumphant reaction from the A-League chiefs last year when they secured a deal to have their competition shown on a free to air channel. Now they have value added with the addition next year of an FA Cup like competition for the land down under.

Pay TV is great, especially in that it shows a lot of sport ad free, but as the name says you gotta pay for it, and a large number of consumers have, but it's still nowhere near the penetration achieved by free to air TV - no surprises there.

The final question I guess is  can sport continue to grow, each code adding value each year so they  try to squeeze more dollars from the TV networks? 

Will the NRL add the sevens to the nines it kicked off this year, or a knockout competition, and what's to stop the A-League having an indoor soccer version, blah blah blah?

If you like a bet, give yourself a sporting chance and put all your money on yes to that final question.

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