Wednesday Whinge – Footy and Netball falling behind in the tech world

Netball and AFL are two sports who have new broadcasting deals with Telstra in 2017. Both have not got off to great starts in terms of their technology partnership. On Sunday, Telstra TV went down, preventing many a fan from watching the two games of netball that were scheduled for Sunday afternoon and forcing people onto mobile devices in order to watch. If you were not a Telstra customer, this would have cost you money. The AFL meanwhile has released an updated tablet app for season 2017, which can be described as clunky and sub par at best. Given this, it is currently the most overpriced sporting app on the market. Fans have taken to social media to vent their frustration, but sport is becoming less and less about the fan and more and more about corporate greed. It is simply not good enough.

Suncorp Super Netball
Telstra TV down said the Suncorp Super Netball social accounts on Sunday afternoon. Don’t worry. Just watch the game on a small device they said. That will be fine. Given there is no television coverage of netball on Sunday’s, fans were forced to either miss the game(s) completely or watch on a smaller device. If you had purchased Telstra TV purely to see the netball every week, well that was simply tough luck.

From The Grandstand has in recent weeks started the campaign to get netball a better television deal that allows fans to watch all games on television and not have to rely on an app or Telstra TV in order to see this world-class sport. It appears too, that many others are becoming just as frustrated at the inaccessibility.

Facebook also had a barrage of complaints directed at Suncorp Super Netball and Telstra accounts over the weekend. It is one thing to hide the game away through Telstra in the first place, it is another to then have this service unavailable during a live game. The replays on 9Gem are plugged, but in 2017, how many people are going to hang around for a replay hours, sometimes days after the game?

From The Grandstand has said it once and will continue to say it until fans are listened to. The new League is brilliant, the broadcast deal is absolute rubbish. Fans will lose patience and the sport cannot survive a mass exodus in today’s climate. The new League is already facing difficulties in getting air time on news services and in the paper, this latest hit spells further danger.

Meanwhile over in AFL land, the new application for mobile devices launched this year has also been met with a bucket load of complaints. Clunky seems to be the key word here. It is another app run by Telstra. Are we noticing a trend? Telstra branding has now taken over the fifty metre arc during AFL games, surely providing a decent product to the AFL should be the minimum trade off.

The tweets go on and on. If fans have to pay for an app, it needs to actually work and be user-friendly. Over the weekend, I found it most difficult to locate radio coverage of the game. While this feature is there, you have to jump through a million bells and whistles before you can actually locate it. Once you find it, the coverage is about ninety seconds in delay, which means it is really quite a useless feature for those trying to tune in at the game.

There was nothing wrong with the app last season (radio delay aside) and the new update this year has not added anything substantial apart from change to the layout. I am finding it constantly signs me out all the time and takes forever to load. Want to look at the AFL ladder? Well that is hidden away and not front of mind. Ridiculous. Then there is confusion around whether you have it as an in-app purchase or a subscription through Telstra. Why can’t we keep it simple?

Sporting fans are continually being asked to fork out more and more money to watch the sport they love and the user experience is not getting any better. This cannot be allowed to be accepted. The technology must be fool-proof before it is rolled out and organisations must start getting better guarantees from technology companies before signing on the dotted line. The technology must improve the sport, not create more issues.

Something has to change here or fans might need to take action into their own hands. It is simply pathetic to promise fans one thing and deliver something else. Fans who without, there would be no game at all.

Got a concern with the coverage of Suncorp Super Netball or AFL, tweet me @liamthompson1.

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