Sports broadcaster Nick Butler on covering the AFL’s expedition to China

Mediaweek speaks with Ten Adelaide’s SA Media Award winner.

Being a news presenter isn’t as easy as it may seem. It’s not just about sitting in front of the camera and reading out the day’s news from an autocue monitor, according to Ten News Adelaide’s sports presenter and South Australian Media Awards winner Nick Butler.

SEE MORE: The Adelaide pro-co opening up China with chefs, AFL and soccer

“Having to present every day and maintain that energy is a challenge in itself,” he told Mediaweek. “There are days when you have a headache, a sore throat or you are just feeling a little bit off. But you have to gather yourself and make sure you put on a show. People at home are not to know it and they don’t need to really care. The day-in day-out nature of full-time presenting can take its toll on your energy at times. You have to be smart about how you manage it.”

However, the job of being a presenter on Ten News Adelaide during primetime has more perks than challenges. Butler enjoys the fast-paced environment of the news hour starting at 5pm. “The blank canvas you get every day is a real attraction,” he said.

Butler wears two hats at Ten Adelaide, one of producer and the other of a presenter. He joined the bureau about four years ago. His current duties already make him a busy man but, to add to the load, Butler also calls AFL matches for Macquarie Media’s Melbourne talkback station 3AW.

“Rolling up to a game with your binoculars and notes, ready to call what you see, is such a thrill. When you are calling the football on the radio, you are trying to paint a picture for the person who is listening. It’s a pressure but it’s also a privilege.”

Last year, Butler called about nine games of AFL for 3AW. The load so far has been similar this year. “I tend to get a lot of the Adelaide-based games.”

He was recently recognised at 2018 South Australian Media Awards for his coverage of the AFL’s expedition to China in 2017, where Port Adelaide faced the Gold Coast Suns. He won the All Media – Coverage of Sport category. However, Butler wasn’t able to attend the ceremony. He was at the Gold Coast calling a match. Therefore, he did the next best thing possible – Facetime. “I felt like I got to hear the moment and felt the drum roll. I was thrilled when my name was called,” Butler said.

He said his award-winning story was “almost a one-man show”.

“I was running around with cameras trying to do interviews and portray an Aussie game in a foreign country.

“The workload was big. I was filing two news packages per day and presenting the sports news at the end of it.”

There was a lot of hype and buildup around the round 8 game that was played in Shanghai in 2017. The AFL took the match to China in a bid to promote the sport in the country.

In 2018, Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast Suns returned to China for a match in round 9, which was played in May.

“I am not going to sit here and say that AFL is going to take off in China any time soon and there are going to be millions of people playing the game,” Butler said. “It was about growing awareness of the sport and expanding the business.

“As David Koch said at one of the dinners, ‘They don’t really give two hoots about the football at the moment, but they really, really do give two hoots about Australia.’

“It was about building relationships and sponsors. There are sceptics out there, but it was a wonderfully executed event. Did they get 50,000 people at the game? No. They got 8,000-10,000 people, but the players enjoyed it and the business success that could come of it will be seen in the next few years.”

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