2016 AFL Fixture: Prime Time Exposure

The 2016 AFL fixture was released this morning, with plenty of conjecture and analysis. Statscrunch, as well as plenty of other websites, will spend a fair bit of time doing fixture analysis. (Some you should check out, if you haven’t already, are Footy Maths Institute and Matter of Stats).

One of the more interesting bits for the season was that there’s a week without any games in it before the finals. It was introduced to combat the mass resting, but a lot of other stuff could happen in it. Who knows? The Brownlow Medal? An eighth-versus-ninth playoff for the last spot in the finals? An all-star game? (We’re hoping for the last one).

At Statscrunch, we’ve decided to do one analysis, based on the prime time exposure for a club. Generally, if you play on a Friday (or Thursday) night, you’re going to rake in the cash. Therefore, in our formula, you get two points per Friday/Thursday night game.

Saturday night games are good, but not as good, so you get one point for it. And Sunday games are an absolute graveyard, so you lose one point per Sunday game.

Firstly, clubs ranked by Thursday/Friday night games:

  • 8: Hawthorn
  • 7: Richmond
  • 6: N Melbourne
  • 5: Collingwood
  • 4: Geelong, Sydney
  • 3: Essendon, West Coast, Pt Adelaide, W Bulldogs, Adelaide
  • 2: Fremantle
  • 1: Carlton
  • 0: Melbourne, GWS Giants, St Kilda, Brisbane, Gold Coast

The AFL is doing a good thing by punishing poor teams for not getting these games, but you still wonder why Fremantle only gets 2.

Secondly, clubs ranked by Saturday night games:

  • 9: W Bulldogs, Adelaide
  • 6: Geelong
  • 5: Richmond, Collingwood, Sydney, Pt Adelaide, Fremantle, St Kilda, Gold Coast
  • 4: N Melbourne, Carlton, Brisbane
  • 2: Essendon, West Coast, Melbourne, GWS Giants
  • 0: Hawthorn

Massive winners, the Bulldogs and Adelaide. It seems that making the finals has paid big dividends for both clubs. Geelong’s wish for night games in Perth was granted. While not part of our analysis, Richmond, the Bulldogs, and Adelaide all play 12 night games, the most of any club. Melbourne and GWS have 2, the least.

And lastly, clubs ranked by Sunday games, from least to most:

  • 3: Richmond
  • 4: Collingwood, N Melbourne, Hawthorn
  • 5: Adelaide, Sydney, Gold Coast
  • 6: Geelong, Pt Adelaide, Fremantle
  • 7: W Bulldogs, Brisbane, West Coast
  • 8: GWS Giants
  • 9: Essendon, Melbourne
  • 10: St Kilda, Carlton

The AFL must really not like Melbourne. They get just two night games for the whole season, and have to play nine games on Sunday, which despite the ‘kids get in free!’ thing, is still problematic with junior sport and school the next day.

Finally, our club’s rankings by Exposure Points:

  • 16: Richmond
  • 12: N Melbourne, Hawthorn
  • 11: Collingwood
  • 10: Adelaide
  • 8: Sydney, Geelong, W Bulldogs
  • 5: Pt Adelaide
  • 3: Fremantle
  • 1: West Coast
  • 0: Gold Coast
  • -1: Essendon
  • -3: Brisbane
  • -4: Carlton
  • -5: St Kilda
  • -6: GWS Giants
  • -7: Melbourne

Richmond, who still can’t win a final, get the most exposure. Hawthorn remains high, as do Collingwood (as always). North Melbourne, Adelaide, and the Bulldogs get a lot of increased exposure, while the bottom seven teams on our list were seven out of the bottom eight teams of 2015.

We wouldn’t stop there, though.

It is a sad fact of the AFL system that if you have lots of members, you will get lots of exposure, which explains Collingwood. We’ve decided to rank the clubs based on exposure points per 10,000 members. The top 5:

  1. N Melbourne, 2.93
  2. W Bulldogs, 2.27
  3. Richmond, 2.26
  4. Adelaide, 1.89
  5. Geelong, 1.81

So, many of the big winners are the top sides here.

And to top it all off, here’s some graphs, which should finally answer the question: which does the AFL give teams good fixtures based on, money or skill?

2016 fixture exposure

Based on these charts, it is more closely correlated with win percentage, but the WA teams get stiffed. Top two spots on the ladder, but still minimal exposure for each.

Stay tuned for more fixture analysis, but it won’t be this weekend. I’ve got a family gathering to attend and I’ll be without internet. Cheers! -Nick


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