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Through extensive research, the AFL found that broadcasters lose between 15 to 20 per cent of its television audience at the main break.

Once that information was relayed to the AFL executive, it was brought up by McLachlan at the CEO’s meeting.

A major Friday night audience could peak at over 900,000 people at half-time.

The pitch of reducing the break in play was taken to and approved by the players through the AFLPA, administrators and the majority of coaches, although there were a handful who opposed it.

But the main stumbling block for change presented itself when major rights holders Channel Seven told the AFL of the financial difficulties that would arise.

At least one radio rights broadcaster also contacted the AFL to detail how much advertising revenue would be lost if the break was cut by 25 per cent.

Half-time broadcasting revenue alone is worth millions of dollars for Seven across the length of a season. The advertising cash comes not just in the form of advertising space, but also sponsor integration.


Major supporters such as Toyota and National Australia Bank pour in millions of dollars to be attached to key segments during the quarter and half-time breaks, such as the NAB AFL Auskicker of the Year, where Seven would interview one of the children at half-time.

In the balancing act of improving ratings versus less commercial airtime, the advertising dollar won.

“Our focus is to ensure the best experience for fans at the ground or watching the broadcast, and ensuring the best possible outcome for players and clubs, we have decided to keep the length as is [20 minutes] for this season,” AFL football operations boss Steve Hocking wrote to clubs last week.

The Age revealed last April that AFL executives – including McLachlan – travelled to the United States for meetings with streaming services Amazon, Google and Facebook.

It’s difficult to ignore the AFL’s desire to trial a shorter half-time given the strong possibility of a streaming service being involved in the next broadcast rights deal beyond 2022.

Streaming services don’t have advertising space and rely purely on subscribers.

The AFL presenting a product with a 20-minute gap in the middle would present significant challenges to its sale.

Sam McClure won the Clinton Grybas rising star award at the AFL media association awards in 2015.

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