In 2024, AFL’s Friday night footy will start at 7:40pm, ensuring fans enjoy the game earlier. A move in response to strong fan feedback.
Andrew Dillon, AFL Chief Executive, confirmed that beginning in the 2024 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, Friday night games will now commence at 7:40pm AEST, ten minutes earlier than the traditional start time.
This change, influenced heavily by fan feedback on the previous 7:50pm start, represents a pivotal adjustment in the AFL’s approach to its scheduling strategy.
Dillon elaborated on the significance of Friday night football in the growth of the national competition, noting its role in drawing substantial crowds and TV audiences. He emphasized the centrality of fans in the decision-making process:
“Fans are at the core of our game; the feedback has been strong and clear about starting Friday night matches earlier and I am pleased that in partnership with Channel 7 we have been able to deliver for them.”
The Seven Network, a long-standing partner in broadcasting AFL games, echoed this commitment to enhancing the fan experience. Lewis Martin, Head of Sport at Seven, highlighted the network’s dedication to delivering cultural moments to Australians, with Friday Night Footy being a prime example. Martin underscored the importance of fan engagement and access:
“In every discussion and decision together with the AFL, the fans remain at the forefront of everything we do. Their passion for the sport, loyalty, and energy makes every bounce, goal, and victory resonate through the screen, connecting communities right across the country.”
In addition to the Friday night shift, Thursday night football will see a new start time of 7:30pm. The fixture adjustments are not just limited to timing; they also include an exciting lineup of matches. Carlton, following its impressive finals performance, and Grand Finalist Brisbane are slated for seven prime Thursday or Friday night slots, a testament to their on-field successes.
The 2024 season will feature a 14-week streak of Thursday night matches, kicking off with a Sydney versus Melbourne clash at the SCG. This is followed by a round one showdown between Richmond and Carlton at the MCG, culminating in a round 13 finale.
Michael Voss’s Carlton team stands out with an AFL-high eight matches on either Thursday or Friday in the first 16 weeks, including a Good Friday match against North Melbourne. Melbourne, on the other hand, leads with four Thursday night matches during this period.
The fixture also highlights the absence of Thursday night matches for Essendon, Fremantle, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, and West Coast in 2024. These teams, along with Melbourne, Richmond, Gold Coast, and Greater Western Sydney, are also missing from the Friday night schedule in the first 16 rounds.
Special events in the 2024 fixture include a Thursday double-header on Anzac Day, a Friday night double-header in round nine, and the much-anticipated Western Derby and Showdown in rounds six and eight, respectively.
In terms of fixture balance, the AFL’s weighted rule for double-up matches aims to create an equitable playing field, with teams grouped into sixes for ‘return’ clashes. Fremantle and West Coast escape double-ups against top-four teams from 2023, while Melbourne faces a challenging draw.
Finally, the scheduling of byes across eight rounds, following the early start for eight teams, reflects the AFL’s ongoing efforts to manage player welfare while delivering a competitive and entertaining season for fans.