The Bulldogs were one of the big winners of the 2020 fixture, handed five games in the blockbuster Friday night slot. And a meeting between Dogs officials and key stakeholders helped make it happen.
The Western Bulldogs’ were handed a blockbuster five-Friday fixture after the club directly lobbied Channel 7 about its attractive style of football.
As the league battles the worst scoring drought since 1968, the Dogs’ proactive measure has helped them secure a bumper draw with four Friday night contests and a return to Good Friday football.
In 2019 the Dogs were allocated one Friday night clash.
They were dumped from Good Friday in 2018, despite a successful clash the previous year against North Melbourne.
The AFL’s desperation to see a return to higher scoring is echoed by broadcasters, with more goals meaning more ad breaks.
The AFL’s fixture comes after input from Seven about the sides it wants to broadcast, with Brisbane and the Dogs rewarded for their sexy style of football.
Bulldogs chief executive Ameet Bains yesterday confirmed he and chief commercial officer Nick Truelson met with Seven boss Lewis Martin and AFL executive producer Gary O’Keefe to sell the club’s vision after the 2019 season.
The Dogs cited their scoring trends, which saw them rank third for scoring across the competition last year.
They were the heaviest scoring side in the second half of the competition.
From Round 16-23 the Dogs scored a competition-high 101.4 points, had the second-best inside-50 differential and scored the second most points from turnovers.
Luke Beveridge’s side also moved the ball from defence to attack better than any side in football in an era of heavy congestion.
The Dogs’ initiative and determination to maximise their fixture with high-scoring football has been praised by the AFL who has cited the approach at meetings of league CEOs and football bosses across the summer.
Bains said the Dogs were aware there would be peaks and troughs in the 2020 season but wanted to play a high-scoring balanced style of football.
“On the basis of how we played in 2019 we were keen to pitch for a greater prime time fixture in 2020,” Bains said.
“We were the highest scoring team in the back half of the year and we were high up in a lot of those metrics.
“We are really keen to push that and the other element in the broadcast picture is highlighting some of the players we do have.
“The other thing we pushed is getting an insight into players.
“In leagues like the NBA kids are following players as opposed to teams — Dustin Martin has got more Instagram followers than any AFL club.
“Part of our sell was to say we have got obvious talent like Marcus Bontempelli but also the young wave in Tim English and Aaron Naughton.
“We think fans of other teams would be excited to watch us play and see those players shine.”
Brisbane has also secured four Thursday and Friday clashes in 2020 given a dynamic, high-scoring team that plays fast football under senior coach Chris Fagan.