With empty stadiums, and challenging COVID restrictions in place, Seven’s coverage of the AFL is going look and sound very different for the rest of 2020.
When AFL returns on June 11 at the MCG, Seven’s number one caller Bruce McAvaney will still be leading the coverage, but he will be doing so from a studio in Adelaide.
The ‘grounding’ of Bruce has become necessary due to state-based travel restrictions imposed by the South Australian government. It’s a situation which is going to cause an interesting dynamic, and potentially plenty of timing issues with the rest of the commentary team who will now be located in Seven’s Melbourne studio.
McAvaney confirmed he would be calling from matches from Adelaide in an SEN radio interview this week.
“I’m in a tricky situation because I probably need to be in South Australia and I’m not sure if I can go to Victoria and come home,’’
“At the moment I can’t, so that’s all to be worked out. “There will be different things that will have to be tried and worked out before the first ball is bounced and then we’ll see what happens after that. “Not easy, not easy for sure. “The quarantine has made life, albeit necessary from a health point of view; it’s made life much more complicated.”
At this stage, it appears all matches broadcast on Seven in 2020 will be called from remote studios at Seven Melbourne. The network has also indicated it will be inserting fake crowd audio into live match broadcasts to help improve atmosphere.
With shorter quarters, and no possibility of ‘Roaming Brian’ Seven’s broadcast is likely to be considerably shorter, making it increasingly challenging for the network to generate advertising revenue from the coverage.
With budgets razor-thin, and Seven under pressure to save cash wherever it can, it will be very interesting to see if network commentators return to the grounds, even when Covid restrictions are lifted.