Dave Smith was a much maligned figure in the rugby league community for reasons that weren’t really that justified – he banned this, he banned that, he changed it now it sucks, etc. Suffice to say that history probably won’t be his friend. But he is a man of finance and some say that he was brought in to broker the TV rights deal – which he did incredibly well. An accusation was that he didn’t understand the fans – he sat in his ivory tower scowling down upon the kingdom that is the National Rugby League. A man that didn’t supposedly understand the fans, organising it in a way so they have not three but four Free To Air live games?
Another criticism was that they jumped the gun organising solely the FTA deal on its own and that it wouldn’t turn out well in the long run – this one has substance. The man originally at the ivory tower perch, Rupert Murdoch, decided to do what no sane man would; effectively spit the dummy on a deal that benefits almost everyone barring the Rolls Royce salesperson about to sell him the seventh gold-encrusted limo to complete his collection.
So instead of having four free to air live games (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and either Thursday or Monday), we get to have only three live games and a new actual schedule of games. That’s probably not a bad thing to get a new game time schedule considering the NRL probably would have listened to what fans are asking for and moved it to an attendance friendly time and 6pm Friday.
NewsCorp strikes again and this time they’ve given us a game arguably harder to attend than Mondays. So well done to you Rupert – you’ve managed to take a deal Dave Smith engineered to give the every man massive benefits and re-engineer it so you can line your bathroom walls with money and controversy.
A user on Reddit’s NRL sub section went as far as telling Murdoch, as well as John Grant if he is involved with this new deal to “go tackle a f@#$&!g cactus”. They said that they would use this game with the crazy time slot at 6pm to televise from regional areas such as Townsville; naturally ignoring that many Cowboys fans prefer Saturdays due to a large travel time to get to games from remote locations like Charters Towers.
They wonder why they’re losing Foxtel subscribers to a pirating or live streaming site and then serve a fan with this – you’d think if they’re losing subscribers they’d do something to reign in some more instead of getting more fans against them.
It’s hard to say that history will be kind to Dave Smith, but for a man who apparently didn’t know what the fans wanted his last hurrah was a pretty damn good one – and it isn’t a coincidence he was left behind the moment he tried to shake things up with Uncle Rupert.