It was do or die time for the NRL Footy Show on Channel 9 this year, but so far it seems they have over achieved – reviving the previously tired show with a new format that is slowly winning back the true Rugby League fans.
Finally, someone at the network listened.
The viewers were crying out for a more serious analysis of the NRL and less ‘Hey, Hey its Saturday!’ comedy skits.
And it wasn’t just the Australian viewing public who were switching off, many forget that New Zealand were originally strong supporters of this show too – and they seem to be showing the thumbs up so far also.
With the addition of the astute Andrew Voss for this year, the new NRL Footy Show instantly gained some credibility and provides a good insight and review of the previous rounds Rugby League. The other regular new face on the panel is the Sydney Morning Herald’s Jacquelin Magnay, who has also done a good job and slotted in well with the team.
On top of reviewing all the outcomes from NRL games, the new segments covering top tries, past eras and the added commentary from leading players rotating through the panel have proven to be a winning combination. Not only is the panel giving tips and predictions on upcoming games, they are showing much more actual NRL footage and discussing it as they should.
The transformation has been very impressive, even Vautin and Johns have worked hard to keep their minds on the job – trying to retain focus on the game for the most past and so far, all the big issues have been covered and discussed.
With guest panel spots being chaired by Russell Crowe, Benji Marshall, Nathan Hindmarsh and Trent Barrett all of which have been impressive – it looks like the format has been re-invented successfully and could live on past this season. Getting Crowe in for the initial guest spot was a masterstroke, his knowledge of the game surprised many and he added plenty of value to the show – which immediately set the tone for the year.
But apart from their new focus on the NRL, it seems the small segment on comedy has also proven to be a winner. Gone are the segments that sometimes made the show look like ‘It’s a Knockout’ and in comes a segment featuring ‘Percy Le Blanc’.
Le Blanc – who bears an uncanny resemblance to Matthew Johns, Reg Reagan and Trent the flight steward – has taken the show by storm this year. Before that, he claimed to be a top whistleblower, but lost his job and disappeared after punching players during a rugby league game brawl in 1978. Le Blanc (Johns) took his new alter ego to Sydney’s CBD and Bondi fooling around with tourists and locals alike – ultimately having the viewing audience in stitches.
It seems the NRL Footy Show has got the balance just right.
The real advances have been made in the alignment and promotion of the NRL game itself. In conjunction with the NRL, the Footy Show has now launched a ‘Get Dressed Up for NRL Games’ theme – incenting fans to get into fancy dress themes as they attend matches, with the best dressed getting air-time on the weekly show. This theme has worked well for cricket and other sports in the past and the NRL along with the Footy Show are hoping to duplicate the success.
And finally, the NRL Footy Show has worked hard to increase memberships for the NRL. Advising people on the options available and the impressive cost structures now in place, as clubs struggle financially – now is the ideal time to support your own club by becoming a member. You can join immediately by clicking here to select your club and supporter level.
So good form from the boys early, lets hope they can continue it well into the 2009 NRL year.