The AFL 2020 season has returned after a few months of coronavirus-related setbacks. The format may be different to previous seasons but it’s still easier than ever to watch.
When did the AFL 2020 season return?
The AFL 2020 season returned to screens on Thursday 11 June when bitter rivals Richmond and Collingwood clashed in a nail-biting tie, but it hasn’t been without a number of road bumps.
From 29 July, the AFL fixture is hoping to cram 33 matches into 20 days in order to avoid major disruptions by the ongoing coronavirus outbreaks and subsequent border restrictions. It’s a monstrous feat but it will allow viewers to get an AFL overload in a shorter period than usual.
The games will be played across Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia and double headers are planned in order for the games to fit in the condensed time period. Originally, a match was expected to be played in Tasmania on 9 August but the island state’s premier said it could not go ahead due to health concerns.
Fixture for the next 33 matches
Wednesday 29 July
- Western Bulldogs v Richmond, Metricon Stadium, 7.10pm AEST
Thursday 30 July
- Carlton v Hawthorn, Optus Stadium, 3.40pm AWST
- Melbourne v Port Adelaide, Gabba, 8.10pm AEST
Friday 31 July
- Essendon v Brisbane, Metricon Stadium, 7.50pm AEST
Saturday 1 August
- North Melbourne v Adelaide, Metricon Stadium, 2.35pm AEST
- St Kilda v Sydney, Gabba, 5.10pm AEST
- West Coast v Geelong, Optus Stadium, 6.10pm AWST
Sunday 2 August
- Gold Coast v Greater Western Sydney, Metricon Stadium, 3.35pm AEST
- Fremantle v Collingwood, Optus Stadium, 4.10pm AWST
Monday 3 August
- Port Adelaide v Western Bulldogs, Adelaide Oval, 6.40pm ACST
Tuesday 4 August
- Richmond v Brisbane, Metricon Stadium, 7.10pm AEST
Wednesday 5 August
- Geelong v North Melbourne, Gabba, 5.40pm AEST
- Adelaide v Melbourne, Adelaide Oval, 7.40pm ACST
Thursday 6 August
- Collingwood v Sydney, Gabba, 5.40pm AEST
- Gold Coast v St Kilda, Metricon Stadium, 8.10pm AEST
Friday 7 August
- Essendon v Greater Western Sydney, Metricon Stadium, 7.50pm AEST
Byes: Fremantle, West Coast, Hawthorn, Carlton
Saturday 8 August
- Port Adelaide v Richmond, Adelaide Oval, 4.05pm ACST
- Brisbane v Western Bulldogs, Gabba, 7.40pm AEST
Sunday 9 August
- West Coast v Carlton, Optus Stadium, 1.35pm AWST
- North Melbourne v Melbourne, Blundstone Arena*, 6.10pm AEST
Monday 10 August
- St Kilda v Geelong, Gabba, 6.10pm AEST
- Fremantle v Hawthorn, Optus Stadium, 6.40pm AWST
Tuesday 11 August
- Adelaide v Collingwood, Adelaide Oval, 6.40pm ACST
Wednesday 12 August
- Gold Coast v Essendon, Metricon Stadium, 7.10pm AEST
Byes: Greater Western Sydney, Sydney
Thursday 13 August
- Sydney v Greater Western Sydney, Optus Stadium 6.10pm AWST
Friday 14 August
- Geelong v Port Adelaide, Gabba, 7.50pm AEST
Saturday 15 August
- North Melbourne v Brisbane, Metricon Stadium, 2.35pm AEST
- Melbourne v Collingwood, Gabba, 5.10pm AEST
- Fremantle v Carlton, Optus Stadium, 6.10pm AWST
Sunday 16 August
- Western Bulldogs v Adelaide, Metricon Stadium, 1.05pm AEST
- St Kilda v Essendon, Gabba, 3.35pm AEST
- West Coast v Hawthorn, Optus Stadium, 4.10pm AWST
Monday 17 August
- Richmond v Gold Coast, Gabba, 7.10pm AEST
How will it be different?
Apart from the teams playing to empty stadiums, the ongoing threat of coronavirus means the AFL 2020 season will now be releasing its fixtures in blocks. That means only four-to-six week runs of the schedule will be known in case the season has to be suspended again in line with government advice.
There were still 144 games to be played from before the 11 June kickoff and that’s not taking into account the finals. With the delay in restarting, a September grand final is no longer expected. Instead, if all goes well, you can expect the closing game of the season to take place mid-to-late October.
Some teams have had to relocate in order to begin full-contact training with certain states giving them permission over others. For example, West Coast Eagles, Fremantle, Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide had to relocate to the Gold Coast temporarily due to ongoing restrictions in their home states.
Despite some of the differences this year, the gameplay remains the same and for many, that’s all that’s needed.
How to watch the AFL 2020 season
Now to the fun part of actually watching the game. You’ll have a few options if you’re within Australia, including free and paid options.
The easiest way to watch it is probably through Kayo, a sports streaming service. Even though you’ll have to pay for it, Kayo offers ad-free viewing in a familiar platform as well as access to a range of other sports as they start back up. The platform has a free 14-day trial in place but after that, you’ll have to fork out $25 a month for the basic package with two simultaneous streams, or $35 if want a third screen.
If you’re hooked up to a Foxtel Sports package, you’ll also be able to flick to the channel to watch all the games live.
For those who’d rather not fork out for subscriptions, some of the games are available on free-to-air TV too. The Thursday and Friday night matches can be viewed on Channel 7 as well as a 7.40pm AEST Saturday match and a 3.35pm AEST Sunday one. If streaming off your laptop or phone is preferable, those games will also be available on 7Plus.
You could also head to the pub now that they’re open again if you wanted to enjoy the atmosphere with a couple of strangers.
If you’re an onlooker from overseas, you’ll have the chance to tune in too. Watch AFL lets you view all the games for $20 a month or $199 a year.
This article was originally published in June but has been updated with the latest information.
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