Are Channel Nine still the one when it comes to Rugby League coverage? Hardly. Underwhelming would be the only way I can describe the current coverage.
Channel Nine and Fox Sports share the NRL coverage and people are switching to the superior coverage on Fox in droves over the lacklustre coverage on Nine. Problem is, not everyone has Foxtel.
I am finding it difficult to bring myself to watch Nine this year. Cameron Williams has left the stable and the masterstroke by Nine was to bring Fatty back. Is that the best they can do? Yvonne Sampson has taken the reigns from Williams admirably but I am yet to warm to her as my time watching the game on free to air is very limited due to the bland coverage.
Let’s also not forget Fox have no ads during play (and in HD) whereas Nine sneak in an ad every time there is a shot at goal.
Rabs is about to hang up the microphone and they are going to need an engaging caller to replace him to make up for self absorbed tripe being served up by Freddy and Joey.
Fox sports lured away Steve Crawley from Nine to oversee the coverage and it looks to have paid an immediate dividend even though we are only two rounds in. The coverage is far superior in every aspect and the call is sharper from the likes of Andrew Voss, Joel Caine and Warren Smith. The co-commentators include Jimmy Smith, Greg Alexander and Andy Raymond. Mark Gasnier and Braith Anasta give half time analysis from the studio with Matt Shirvington and there is the Matty Johns show with Gorden Tallis, Nathan Hindmarsh and Bryan Fletcher. Lara Pitt does around the grounds. Each knows their role and executes it well.
The disorganised and haphazard approach from Nine is beginning to resemble a couple of mates doing the call from their garage with a case of beer and some old anecdotes of their past glories. Only Peter Sterling and Darren Lockyer can hold their head high as people who take the call seriously although Sterlo has a foot in both camps as he has his own show on Fox. Maybe he can see the proverbial writing on the wall at Nine?
Origin is on the horizon and Nine’s coverage will have to improve dramatically between now and then for Nine to maintain a lions share of the ratings. Let’s hope it’s not a mash up of The Benny Hill Show and The Goodies. To save me from passing out, I’m not holding my breath.
I’m also sick of seeing the Broncos in prime time but that’s a gripe for another time…