An ABC spokesperson has defended the broadcaster's decision to show the A-League Grand Final on ABCMe due to the forced delay.
Fox Sports' broadcast sharing deal enforces a two-hour delay on A-League finals matches shown on the free to air network, leading to the ABC showing the Grand Final on third digital station, ABCME.
ABCMe accounts for 0.3% of the total Australian television ratings share.
“It guarantees that we can broadcast the (Wednesday) semi-final and the Grand Final on Sunday at a reasonable time and also at a consistent time – with both starting at 8.25pm," an ABC spokesperson told TV BlackBox after the decision.
“Under our contract, both matches are on a minimum two-hour delay.”
TV BlackBox reports that only 8,000 people watched the A-League's elimination final between Western United and Brisbane Roar on the two-hour delay on ABCMe.
The result means the A-League elimination final attracted over a hundred-times fewer viewers than the ABC's main channel attracted for murder-mystery show Vera.
The match recorded only 4,000 television viewers in Melbourne and 2,000 in Sydney, with zero reported viewers in Perth.
The relegation of the showpiece final puts into stark consideration the control Fox Sports exercises on the A-League's broadcasting.
The subscription network has long been heralded by FFA as crucial to the sport in Australia, but have played a significant role in the sport's demise on every free to air network it has shown on so far. ABC is the third broadcaster to relegate the competition after Channel 10 and SBS made similar decisions.
Averages on Fox Sports for the A-League this season have been around the 24,000 mark overall - about a 33% reduction on last season.
Figures for last season's Grand Final were 215k on 10Bold and a Fox Sports audience of 191k, both low figures that are set for further reductions this year.