The AFL fixture for 2024 is out and, as usual, there are some changes and some constants in the schedule. Thursday night games are more frequent, with the first 13 rounds and the new ‘Opening Round’ featuring one each. There will also be the occasional Friday double-header and an Anzac Day game between Collingwood and Essendon followed by GWS and Brisbane in Canberra. Sunday fixtures, especially at the start of the year, have been spaced out with little overlap between them, which may lead to the end of Sunday afternoon football on free-to-air TV in eastern states.
Carlton is set to dominate prime time TV with Thursday or Friday night matches in eight of the 16 rounds, giving them significant exposure to audiences. They also have a favorable draw, with only six trips outside Melbourne, including a game against West Coast in Perth. Fremantle and West Coast are also winners in the 2024 fixture, as they do not play any of last year’s preliminary finalists twice.
On the other hand, Sunday night games, which were introduced and quickly scrapped in 2014, look to be making a return in the 2024 fixture, possibly causing inconvenience to fans. Sydney has one of the toughest draws, with road trips against four of last year’s finalists and a tough start to the year with games against Melbourne and Collingwood. Additionally, the floating fixture for the final nine weeks of the home-and-away season could inconvenience fans making travel plans or trying to book events around game schedules.
Overall, the 2024 AFL fixture has created winners and losers, with teams and fans reacting to the changes and implications of the schedule.