Warner Bros. reaches out on Devils name; AFL to persist with Mother’s Day weekend fixture experiment

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In today’s AFL Briefing, your daily wrap of footy news:

  • The AFL looks set to be free to use the Devils nickname for the new Tasmanian club after Warner Bros. reached out to the league. 
  • The AFL will continue to experiment with two matches on the Friday night of Mother’s Day weekend, despite this contributing to only two free-to-air games in Victoria.


Warner Bros. reaches out to AFL about Devils name

The AFL looks set to be free to use the Devils nickname for the new Tasmanian club after Warner Bros. reached out to the league.

After years of advocating, Tasmania was last week finally granted a licence by the AFL, with a 19th men’s team on track to join the national competition in 2028.

History beckons for football in the Apple Isle.Credit: AFL Photos

Attention immediately turned to what the newest club would be called, with the Tasmanian Devils emerging as the logical and popular option.

But there was speculation the Devils name would be off-limits because Warner Bros. owns the commercial copyright for its world-famous cartoon character, Taz.

Outgoing AFL boss Gillon McLachlan last week said he was confident the issue could be worked through if the club wished to be called the Devils.

Warner Bros. has given a reason for McLachlan’s optimism.

“The Tasmanian Devil [“Taz”] is an iconic Looney Tunes character and Warner Bros. appreciates the AFL’s acknowledgement and respect of our registered rights,” a Warner Bros. Discovery spokesperson told AAP on Tuesday.

“We have reached out to the league, and we look forward to a happy solution shortly.″⁣

The AFL and the Tasmanian government will appoint a board in coming weeks, which will be in charge of choosing the name.

Tasmania’s bid got across the line after the federal government chipped in $240 million for a contentious $715 million new waterfront stadium in Hobart.

The stadium was the final piece required by the AFL before approving the licence, which was unanimously backed by the 18 existing club presidents.

AFL to persist with fixture experiment on Mother’s Day weekend

Jon Pierik

The AFL will continue to fixture two matches on the Friday night of Mother’s Day weekend, despite this contributing to only two free-to-air games across the round in Victoria.

The marquee Friday night match this week features a blockbuster between Geelong and Richmond at the MCG, but beginning half an hour earlier than usual, at 7.20pm (AEST). This match will broadcast on Seven, and simulcast on Fox Footy and streaming service Kayo.

There will be some overlap with the rare second Friday night fixture, between 17th-placed West Coast and Gold Coast in Perth, beginning at 6.40pm AWST (8.40pm AEST), and shown exclusively on Fox Footy.

The AFL will continue to experiment on the Mother’s Day weekend, with only two matches on free to air.Credit: The Age

This move means there are only two matches on Sunday, with Adelaide hosting St Kilda and Collingwood facing Greater Western Sydney at the MCG, the latter from 4.40pm. Both games are exclusive to Foxtel.

The league’s only other free-to-air game in Victoria is on Saturday night, when the Brisbane Lions host Essendon at the Gabba. This match is also simulcast on Foxtel. The Carlton v Western Bulldogs clash, arguably the game of the round, is one of seven matches exclusively on pay television in Victoria.

AFL Fans Association president Ron Issko said as long as the number of free-to-air matches still averaged 3.5 games per weekend through the season, supporters would likely accept this weekend’s rationed Mother’s Day fare.

“As long as the 3.5 average is maintained, I can live with one weekend being two [games] on free to air, but I would expect to see four on another week to average it out,” Issko said.

There have regularly been four free-to-air matches per round through the season to date, for Thursday night football – shown on Seven – has been a prominent fixture, along with public holiday games, such as the Easter Monday clash between Geelong and Hawthorn, and Anzac Day Eve and Anzac Day matches.

This weekend’s fixture follows last year’s encouraging shift where Port Adelaide hosted the Western Bulldogs, and Fremantle hosted North Melbourne on the Friday night of Mother’s Day weekend, and only two matches were held on the Sunday. These were well attended considering it was Mother’s Day, for Melbourne and St Kilda drew 35,767 at the MCG, while Carlton’s late-afternoon game against Adelaide at Marvel Stadium attracted 25,376 supporters.

The AFL is keen to avoid a repeat of 2019, when, with three matches on Mother’s Day, only 14,636 fans attended Hawthorn’s clash with Greater Western Sydney at the MCG.

An AFL spokesman said on Tuesday the league did not want a repeat of that attendance, this having not been an issue through the pandemic-impacted seasons of 2020 and 2021.

“The AFL has removed that middle slot on the [Mother’s Day] Sunday. With the second Friday night game, you are still getting the same number of overall games with clear air … I don’t think there is going to be a huge trend with this. It’s just a couple of quirks in the fixture where we have done it,” the spokesman said.

Under the new deal beginning in 2025, Foxtel and Kayo will have exclusive broadcast rights to all Saturday games for the first eight rounds of the season, except for Anzac Eve, Anzac Day and Dreamtime, if they were to fall on a Saturday. For the final eight rounds, Saturday games can also be broadcast on Seven. However, the first 15 rounds of the season will have Thursday night matches on Seven.

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