On Wednesday, Foxtel announced a host of cuts to its Fox Sports News division.
Of the expected 20 or so staff to lose their jobs, football reporters Daniel Garb and Carly Adno have confirmed their departures from the company.
Head of Fox Sports, Peter Campbell, told staff in a letter that the decision was based on a thorough review.
“Following a careful and considered review, we have today announced some changes to the programming of FOX SPORTS News which reduces the number of live news hours through the middle of weekdays and which unfortunately have resulted in a number of redundancies within the Australian News Channel (ANC) team that delivers FOX SPORTS News.
“Our customer audience analysis shows viewing of FOX SPORTS News now peaks in the morning and evening and on weekends, with low daytime viewership. Therefore we are going to focus on delivering live sports news and the channel’s marquee programs, including AFL Tonight, NRL Tonight and Cricket AM, during those peak periods.
“This decision is not about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on sport. It simply reflects viewers are consuming sports news in different ways and at different times together with the same challenging conditions in the advertising market that are impacting the entire entertainment industry.”
The company wants to focus their energy on morning sports bulletins and evening shows, which will also perform better on their on-demand streaming service Kayo Sports.
Campbell’s comments reiterate the idea that the AFL, NRL and Cricket are their marquee offerings, therefore it is in their best interests to improve their associated programming for these sports.
On the football side of things, the axing of Garb and Adno is a huge blow to the sport’s presence on the Fox Sports network.
Garb, in particular, has been a prominent footballing voice on Fox Sports News as well as the host of the weekly Fox Football Podcast.
The podcast itself has become more important in recent times, due to the lack of magazine shows on Fox Sports for the A-League.
Magazine shows such as Sunday Shootout and Just for Kicks were all axed by Fox in recent years.
The job cuts come after the news the A-League will play on and try to finish the season, even though there are concerns around the coronavirus outbreak.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, there is a possibility Fox Sports will look to get out of the TV deal they signed with the A-League in late 2016, if the competition was abandoned this season.
If the A-League fails to meet its obligations this season, it could give Fox Sports the opportunity to move its way out of a deal they are currently unhappy with due to the leagues declining ratings.
A-League decision makers plan to condense the season into a shorter timeframe, with the hope of finishing by mid-April.
PFA CEO John Didiluca told SMH: “As it stands now we have no certainty about what Fox will do in the event of the league having to be shut down – whether they choose to withhold funding or terminate the agreement.”
“All of these things are options and we just don’t have an answer about what that will be.
“The players are showing their commitment and good faith by putting their hands up and continuing to play. The nature of their choice is awful, effectively having to weigh up risks to their personal and public health on one hand with the knowledge the football economy could collapse on the other.
“Fox have helped us build our competitions from day one and we now need them stick with us more than ever. We are urging them to match the resilience and commitment that the players and the clubs are showing. This will give everybody within the football community some measure of certainty that the sport has a strong future.”
Although Fox may not be satisfied with their current deal with the A-League, outside of the NRL and AFL there is not a whole of sport to broadcast at the moment.
The A-League would have received pressure from Fox to continue the season, even though there is uncertainty Fox will continue broadcasting the competition in the future.
Fox seems to be using the A-League to boost its current lack of sport offerings on Kayo Sports, despite recently sacking one of its most influential voices.
Football is not a priority for the company at this stage, but rather a pawn they can easily influence in these uncertain times.