3AW disputes Herald Sun claim: Weekend AFL streaming numbers surge


Radio ratings leader responds: ‘Asleep at the wheel? This could not be further from the truth’

Three weeks before the start of the 2023 AFL season 3AW confirmed its strategy for broadcasting games this season.

Melbourne’s No. 1 station was planning to call four matches per week, available to listeners on 3AW 693, and for the first time through the 3AW app and website. This came after an agreement ended with SEN who had been brokering radio rights for the AFL.

Tom Malone, managing director of Nine Radio, said at the time: “3AW has been proudly broadcasting Aussie Rules for almost 80 years and our commentary team for 2023 is arguably the best we’ve ever assembled. Featuring some of the greatest names to have ever played AFL, as well as the most insightful analysts of the game, our coverage for the upcoming season will be unbeatable.”

A news item in the Herald Sun this week highlighted how some listeners were frustrated that 3AW was not calling Thursday night games and limited its broadcasts to four of the nine games each round. The item also said Nine had been “frozen out of the AFL app”, with commentary not available where in recent years it was the only place to hear matches on mobile devices.

3AW claims news report “could not be further from the truth’

In response to the Herald Sun news item, 3AW station manager Stephen Beers sent an email to all staff explaining the streaming changes for 2023.

Beers wrote:

It’s been portrayed as though we were “asleep at the wheel”. This could not be further from the truth.

As you know, our strategy has been to recover control of our content creation, distribution and commercialisation.

This has led to significant audience and commercial upside for us, and downside for our competitors.

As part of our negotiations with the AFL, we requested that our broadcasts only be available through our App. The future of our business relies on our ability to have a direct relationship with our listener – not through the AFL, or SEN. We also secured streaming rights for all of Australia, not just Melbourne and Perth.

Stephen Beers

Now our loyal listeners don’t have to switch Apps when the footy starts from 3AW/6PR to the AFL – they can listen to us anywhere, anytime, on any device. That’s the future of radio. And the only place to listen is through a platform we control – so we can curate content and advertising based on who is listening.

It makes no commercial sense to have our listeners access our content via third-party platforms. I wonder if the Herald Sun would want their content distributed for free through the AFL app without knowledge of audience, data or an ability to commercialise?

Our strategy – to keep our listeners on our platforms – has already paid huge dividends. In 2023, our streaming numbers are up 100% on Saturdays and 284% on Sundays.

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