Seven’s cricket commentary team is set to call games off-site. Picture: Tony Gough
Seven’s cricket commentary team is set to call games off-site. Picture: Tony Gough

Commentary hubs tipped for Big Bash

Commentary hubs are the new norm, with cricket set to also be swallowed up by the cost-cutting coronavirus measure.

Channel 7 has declared they will start the AFL season with commentators calling the action off monitors in studios instead of being at the grounds.

And already the idea of commentary hubs for this summer's Big Bash season is "on the table".

A major factor in that decision will be whether crowds are allowed back to sporting events.

If the COVID-19 restrictions continue into the later part of the year as expected, Ricky Ponting and his band of commentators will be calling the T20 tournament from the network's Docklands studio.

The cost saving element of having hubs instead of flying commentators and production staff all around the country is also a major selling point for Channel 7 management who are desperate to reduce its bottom line.

"There is a big chance that there will be hubs to start the cricket season," an industry insider said. "Everything is on the table and it is certainly the most likely option."

While the Big Bash will be done remotely, the Test series between Australia and India which is pencilled in for December would be a different story.

The traditional bevy of callers and experts who are required for eight hours each day of Test cricket coverage would be at the venue.

Cricket has been an area Channel 7 bosses have zeroed in on as a way to save some cash and it was reported in March that the network offered to sell the Big Bash back to Channel 10.

New Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton approached Network Ten, which had held the BBL rights until 2018, but they declined the offer.

 

Bruce McAvaney and Brian Taylor won’t be anywhere near each other when footy returns. Picture: Wayne Ludbey
Bruce McAvaney and Brian Taylor won’t be anywhere near each other when footy returns. Picture: Wayne Ludbey

 

SEVEN FACES BIG GAP TO UNITE BRUCE, BT

Channel 7 commentators Bruce McAvaney and Brian Taylor are likely to be 730km apart when they call the AFL's return game together.

The extraordinary situation has come about because of South Australia's strict quarantine rules which means Adelaide-based McAvaney won't be able to fly in and out of Victoria.

So when the ball is bounced on June 11 - most likely at the MCG for Collingwood v Richmond - Taylor will be in Channel 7's Melbourne studio with McAvaney in a special hub built for him in the City of Churches.

Seven has already declared they will be calling all games remotely when the season resumes with a boundary rider likely to be the only member of the commentary team at the venue.

 

But the McAvaney situation is a curveball they're determined to work through given the broadcasting icon is the network's voice of football.

His health is the main priority with the 66-year-old diagnosed with leukaemia back in 2015. He didn't publicly reveal his cancer battle until two years later.

"Bruce doesn't want to risk his health and Channel 7 won't risk it," an industry source said.

"It's going to be very challenging to find that chemistry and flow in the call when you're not sitting next to each other.

"Normally they can tap each other or can work off each other's body language. But don't forget, we are talking about two of the best in the business."

 

 

We’ll be hearing Bruce’s “SPECIAL” call from his own hub in Adelaide. Picture: Sarah Reed
We’ll be hearing Bruce’s “SPECIAL” call from his own hub in Adelaide. Picture: Sarah Reed

 

McAvaney hinted at the potential issue this week, describing his situation as "tricky".

"I'm in a tricky situation because I probably need to be in South Australia and I'm not sure if I can go to Victoria and come home, at the moment I can't so that's all is to be worked out," McAvaney told SEN.

"There will be different things that will have to be tried and worked out before the first ball is bounced and then we'll see what happens after that.

"Not easy, not easy for sure. The quarantine has made life, albeit necessary from a health point of view, its made life much more complicated."

The Queensland hub games will be called from Melbourne where leading callers Hamish McLachlan, James Brayshaw and Taylor are based along with experts Wayne Carey, Matthew Richardson and Cameron Ling.

New addition Luke Hodge and AFL legend Leigh Matthews both live in Brisbane which is another factor in what is a very complex situation for AFL broadcaster.

 

BT will also call from offsite. Picture: Supplied/Ch7
BT will also call from offsite. Picture: Supplied/Ch7

 

 

Originally published as Commentary hubs tipped for Big Bash



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