NRL Footy Show: Sacrificing Content and Quality for Ratings.   (Guest Blog)

I used to watch the NRL Footy Show a lot more than I do now. It was entertaining, informative and had a good mix of humour and footballing content. Despite being on late, it was even a show kids could watch. Now though it is almost unbearable. The hosting is not as good, product placement and lowbrow shenanigans has replaced intelligent and critical discussion of games and news topics. The overload of ridiculous segments and awkward attempts at humour is suffocating and I even feel like it gives NRL a bad reputation and damages the brand.

I will not present much direct evidence to support my opinion, you will just have to watch an episode to see for yourself what I’m talking about, though various online sporting forums and blogs are awash with similar views.

It goes without saying that Channel Nine’s so-called ‘Footy Show’ has become the most atrocious prime-time TV show next to Big Brother. Rodney Shervey 13.09.2013.

I'm not a huge AFL fan, but I prefer to watch the AFL footy show. I don't think I'm alone. (Unfortunately in Queensland it's on quite late, after the NRL show and then an episode of Arrow which is 10 times more unbearable – apparently Channel Nine is in to buying terrible tv shows, but that’s a rant for another day). For a long time it has had a good mix of tomfoolery, player discussions and often fascinating bits of football journalism. I know that advertisers have more bargaining power over big media than they used to. I just feel that the show could work in the product placement without compromising the integrity of what should be a program about football.

You might say go watch the Sunday Roast or Sterlo's show on foxsports if you want in-depth discussion, but isn't the NRL Footy Show the flagship television program for the code? It needs its dignity back.

A couple of weeks ago I asked the online NRL community on Reddit what they thought the problem is. The most popular response was that former Australian cricketer Michael Slater is to blame. I agree that the hosting is bad (Darryl Brohman is as funny as a funeral) but I am not sure one unwise hire is entirely to blame, especially since ‘Slats’ joined the show in 2012 and it was taking a nosedive before then. He is criticised for his deadpan delivery, lack of in-depth footballing knowledge and (as one redditor put it) his anti-infectious laugh. Of course the AFL Footy Show has a former cricketer in James Brayshaw, but he is also the President of the North Melbourne Football Club and is certainly well qualified to be co-hosting the show. For me, ‘Slats’ can’t take all the blame since he doesn’t have a lot of quality material to work with. Surely there are producers to blame and market constraints to consider. I don't even know who the target audience is any more.

Presumably the NRL Footy Show thinks they have cracked a formula for producing a cost effective variety show (shudder) which rates best. This ‘lowest common denominator’ thinking trades off critical discussion and football journalism (niche demographics already targeted by Sterlo and NRL360 on foxsports), for clowning around which appeals to a wider audience.

It's why everything, everything is so boring now. It's why movies are all sequels, why reddit has the same thing on the front page every day. The more people you appeal to, the more potential audience you have, and the greater chance you won't be a failure. It's not about the runaway success, it's about safe, dependable ways to not fail. /u/ReggieBasil (reddit) 28.08.2013.

I can only assume that Channel Nine is contractually obligated to have a prime time football show as part of its broadcasting deal with the NRL, so why else is it still on the air at all? There seems to be so much agreement about how unwatchable the program is, yet in 2013, they won another Logie. Apparently, I don’t know how to run a business, but in my opinion the Footy Show has sold its footballing soul for advertising space and blanketing, uncultured, ratings-earning drivel.