The Footy Show is dead.
After 24 years, Channel Nine announced a new format for 2018: an hour-long, footy-focused show hosted by Erin Molan, likely to spread over Monday night, Thursday night and Sunday.
That meant goodbye to lovable longtime host Fatty (Paul Vautin, who continues commentary duties next year), The Big Marn (Darryl Brohman) and an uncertain future for Beau Ryan.
To be fair, it’s a long time coming. The show’s ‘footytainment’ brand has been left behind by Foxtel’s stable of serious, footy-focused shows. Following on from Nine’s Thursday night game hurt too, with The Footy Show starting at 10pm and finishing around midnight. Only the hardiest fans could stay up for the whole show. While we all have memories of The Footy Show’s golden era (Anti-ads, 60 Seconds with Sterlo, the infamous chilli contests, the Mario Fenech pranks, Daredevil Dudes, Crack a Fat, That’s Gold, Reg Reagan and 11 Logies), it’s been in a long decline, even after introducing Yvonne Sampson and Molan.
So how can the new show succeed?
Firstly, it needs to distance itself from The Footy Show; more footy news and less silly shenanigans. It works for The Sunday Footy Show. Being Channel Nine, there is bound to be a bigger focus on their Thursday, Friday and Sunday games. If Nine can keep the focus on footy and not bow to commercial pressures to appeal to everyone, the new show should do well. It’s no longer The Footy Show and never will be.
Nine should be applauded for taking a risk. This is the same network that’s aired 500 seasons of The Block and ran Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory repeats into the ground. They could’ve ignored the falling ratings and kept Fatty and The Footy Show going even longer. By shaking things up, they’re creating debate, important in this social media-heavy climate. Suddenly fans are invested and curious to see what happens.