Own goal: Why Channel 10 is snubbing the Socceroos

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Seen here, Socceroos stars Mitch Duke and Aaron Mooy celebrate a goal for Australia.
The Socceroos will be out to extend their winning streak in World Cup qualifiers to 12 when they take on Japan in Saitama. Pic: Getty

OPINION

When Channel 10 announced it would be the new home of football, a spokesman with a title too long to fit on this page assured supporters it was a big win.    

"This landmark deal further accelerates our strategy and commitment to broadcasting the sport to all Australians. The broad reach and exposure the sport, teams and players will receive, along with the wealth of programming opportunities across all our platforms are unparalleled," Mr Big Name said.

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"But of course, the real winners here are the fans.

"We are looking forward to working with Football Australia and establishing one of the strongest sporting partnerships in the world."

It sounded good and, indeed, the early stages of the partnership have been promising.

There has been live free-to-air coverage of the Socceroos' Asian qualifiers, the popular and professional Simon Hill is back behind the mic and plans for the A-League season look exciting.

And then Network 10 go and score a big own goal.

Tuesday night's qualifier against Australia's great Asian rival Japan is the Socceroos' biggest game since the 2018 World Cup.

Graham Arnold's men are on a world record roll of 11 wins in a row.

A 12th successive victory will put Australia in the box seat to qualify for next year's World Cup in Qatar – making it five straight visits to the biggest show on the planet. 

It could also spell the end of Japan's hopes of automatic qualification, or at leave the Blue Samurai on the precipice.

The game kicks off at a good time for an Australian audience – 9.14pm in the eastern states – and Socceroos fans are genuinely excited about this exciting young side's development.   

So, with all this positive momentum, what does Channel 10 go and do?

Instead of pushing the game out on its main channel, it's been secreted away on its digital multi-channel 10 Bold.

Socceroos relegated to secondary channel  

For many viewers with older technology, 10 Bold disappeared after the network switched from SD (Standard Definition) to HD (High Definition) at the end of last month.

Others who can get it but fall in the casual fan category may give up after not finding it on 10. 

So what's on 10's main channel preventing the network from showing the game there?

In our biggest markets, the ratings-challenged The Cheap Seats (TCS) followed by NCIS re-runs are taking priority over Mat Ryan, Tom Rogic, Martin Boyle and our national football team.    

TCS, which can be best described as a poor man's Have You Been Paying Attention, was watched by just 370,000 viewers (nationally) last week.

As one Socceroos fan put it: "Terrible decision by Channel 10. They don’t realise how many people watch and follow soccer in this country."    

Another added: "Would expect better from Channel 10 being such a crucial game. Why did they want the contract and treat the game as 2nd rate?"

Pictured here, the Socceroos' squad poses for a photo before a World Cup qualifying game.
The Socceroos' squad faces its biggest test in World Cup qualifying against Asian powerhouse Japan on Tuesday night. Pic: Getty

It's a strange decision by 10 but not unexpected according to those familiar with the station's attitude to sport.

"They don't back themselves like a 7 does. They hate taking shows off their main station, particularly for a mid-week sporting event," an industry insider told Yahoo Australia.

"This is a huge game for Australian football and it looks like 10 is burying its investment.

"Switching to a multi-channel may not seem a big deal but it's not a good look. What sort of message are they sending?"

Not a good one.

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