Promote the AFLW competition through fantasy football
Drafter’s mission is to provide fantasy footy for the AFLW, in the inaugural year, in the middle of growing momentum for women’s sport, to connect the fans with the players and the league, and contribute toward the growth and sustainability of the AFLW.
The AFL are launching it’s women’s league with the inaugural season starting on February 4. The launch is in the middle of a spike in women’s professional sport and broadcasting. It comes after a second successful season of the Women’s Big Bash (WBBL), and will be followed by the launch of the new Super Netball on February 18. All leagues are being broadcast on the main free to air networks. These sports join the more established W-League for soccer, the WNBL for basketball, and the rise of women’s Rugby in all formats. Australia has never seen this much elite women’s sport. 2017 will be huge.
With all this going on, it’s easy to forget just far we’ve come. It’s taken a lot to get here – to develop women’s sport and to challenge the outdated idea that it isn’t marketable. But the ratings are starting to speak for themselves. The 2016 AFLW exhibition game between the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne, which was broadcast by Channel Seven, had an average of 746,000 viewers tuning in nationally, and was the largest overall average audience in Melbourne of any game during the 2016 AFL home and away season. Channel Nine’s digital channel, GEM, had ratings of up to 110,00 for a 2016 netball match between Australia and New Zealand. The prime-time match between Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Stars in the WBBL out-rated both the A-League and NBL peaking with a national audience of 637,000. This is close to a 70% increase on their previous season average.
These league launches, and their ratings, are symbolic of genuine social change. The leagues speak to two very important audiences. Young girls, who love football, who will idolise Daisy Pearce and who will be inspired to compete in their chosen sport. Who won’t feel limited by which sport they can choose. Who can see women being accepted, no celebrated, for playing football. And it speaks to young boys, who see that it’s no big thing for women to be playing football, cricket, rugby or soccer. Who might be in awe of Ellyse Perry as much as he’s in awe of Mitchell Johnson.
But these sports are still in an awkward phase. They’re semi-professional. Energy, care and forethought must be put into their growth to ensure they’re viable products, where player welfare is paramount, where players are compensated fairly for the coin they generate, where professional leagues are fed by sustainable grass-roots platforms, where the professional league has a fan base that grows steadily and organically from year to year.
Fantasy sports is a recent phenomenon which has a massive impact on fan base, attendance and ratings. It connects fans to players and leagues like never before. It encourages interest from fans in players who aren’t on their favourite team, in games where their team isn’t competing, and even in sports they wouldn’t normally watch. With the Drafter launch we want to provide fantasy-playing AFL fans with a hook into the women’s game they might not otherwise have had; and introduce new AFLW fans to the world of fantasy sports. We believe this will be a contribution to the growth and sustainability of the game. A contribution toward opening up the prospect for women to chose a career as an AFLW player, which is especially symbolic when Aussie Rules is a sport which is so closely tied to our national identify.