The West

New broadcaster keen on WAFL
New broadcaster keen on WAFL

Channel 7 will broadcast the WAFL for the next three seasons - if a presentation to potential sponsors next week can attract $1 million a year to underwrite the coverage.

Following the remarkable ratings bonanza in Adelaide this season, where the coverage of SANFL matches on 7mate has produced a dramatic lift in the size of the State league audience, WA football officials believe a similar increase is possible here.

A memorandum of understanding between Channel 7 and the WA Football Commission has been drawn up, with both parties eager to resume a partnership that ceased in the mid-1980s.

The commission has told the WAFL clubs and long-time broadcaster ABC TV, as well as Channel 9, that Channel 7 was the preferred media provider for the next three years.

"We are keen to do a deal," Seven West Media (WA) chief executive Chris Wharton said.

"We are the best option for the WAFL because of our reach and long commitment to football in WA. The South Australian experience demonstrates that we will bring a new dimension as broadcasters and a bigger audience for the WAFL."

Seven West Media, which publishes _The Weekend West _, would broadcast WAFL matches throughout the State on 7mate and regional affiliate GWN.

Wharton said GWN had greater regional reach than any other network. Logistical issues meant it was likely broadcast matches would be played at only one or two grounds, while scheduling continuity would see games played either before or after AFL fixtures.

"It makes sense from a production point of view that we limit games to one or two venues," Wharton said.

"And scheduling a WAFL match immediately before or after an Eagles game, for example, should bring in a bigger audience."

WAFC chief operating officer Nick Sautner told the clubs recently that Channel 7 "could present a significant upside for the promotion of the WAFL".

He confirmed that about 10 companies, including insurance giant Suncorp, whose arm AAMI is the current WAFL naming-rights sponsor, would be targeted as broadcast partners.

"We see that (Channel 7) will drive greater interest in the WAFL," Sautner said.

The ABC TV audience has plummeted this season, with just 5000 people watching the Easter Saturday match between West Perth and South Fremantle.

This contrasts to the SANFL where a peak of 81,000 people watched new team Adelaide play Port Adelaide on 7mate.

The West Australian

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