AFL Media is an Australian sports media company operated by the Australian Football League (AFL) to provide coverage of the league and the sport of Australian rules football.


Established in 2012, AFL Media provides content to and the AFL Live mobile app, and formerly published the AFL Record from 2012 to 2018. Although Telstra currently holds the digital media broadcasting rights for AFL games, there is an agreement in place that allows to host video content from Telstra Media.[1] Telstra also receives the advertising revenue from the website.[2] Although AFL Media is located in the same building as the AFL's headquarters in Docklands, Victoria, it employs an independent editorial and journalist team to report on the league and produce content on its various mediums.[2]

Since its inception as a business, AFL Media had published the match-day AFL Record; however Crocmedia acquired the publishing arm of AFL Media in July 2018, and will assume the operations of producing the AFL Record and its related brands from 2019.[3]

Standing down of Mitch Cleary controversyEdit

The Mitch Cleary standing down controversy was a dispute centred around AFL Media's decision to stand down journalist Mitch Cleary for posting a tweet revealing Brooke Cotchin, the wife of Richmond Tigers player Trent Cotchin, had breached the Australian Football League‘s (AFL) social distancing rules in the interstate "hubs" that all Victorian and New South Wales AFL teams were in following a resurgence of COVID-19 in Victoria and New South Wales.[4] The move was widely condemned as a “betrayal of journalism”, and led to widespread public backlash, with many figures urging AFL Media to reinstate him to his position.[5][6] Among the figures calling for his reinstatement was Brooke Cotchin, who voiced her support for Cleary in a tweet.[7] Due to the backlash, AFL Media eventually walked back on their decision, reinstating Mitch Cleary to his previous position.[8]

Reactions and aftermathEdit

Journalist Caroline Wilson recommended that Cleary, who she deemed a "serious journo", should stop working for AFL Media.[9] After the incident, fellow AFL Media journalist Damian Barrett declared his support for the AFL’s decision, a statement which was widely criticised.[10][11][12]

The controversy resulted in a significant worsening of approval towards AFL Media, with several figures, including president of the Collingwood Football Club Eddie McGuire and radio broadcaster Gerard Whateley, stating that it had undermined the image of AFL Media as being independent from the Australian Football League.[13][6] Journalist Rohan Connolly deemed the event a "disaster", and stated that it was the product of a gradual decline in the quality of AFL Media's reporting. He went on to state that the event could undermine public confidence in the AFL.[14]


AFL Media provides content for a range of digital products including and the 18 clubs' official websites, the AFL Live mobile app and the various social media channels operated by the AFL on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.[1] It also produces a range of podcasts and online videos analysing various aspects of the AFL, as well as operating the league's photography and film departments: AFL Photos and AFL Films, respectively.[1][15]

It has been speculated that AFL Media could potentially control the broadcast of AFL games in future broadcasting agreements, and either directly sell to audiences itself or on-sell the content to free-to-air and subscription television networks.[15][16]


Due to its direct affiliation with the Australian Football League, AFL Media has received criticism from rival media outlets and journalists questioning whether it can truly provide independent coverage of the league, and that it is not just a public relations tool.[1][15] Former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas publicly reiterated this criticism in 2016, stating that AFL Media was "avoiding" reporting on several controversial issues to protect the AFL's brand.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d Joshi, Kruti (13 May 2017). "How AFL Media and Broadcasting remains independent". Mediaweek. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b Hayes, Alex (2 April 2015). "How AFL Media became Australia's biggest sports platform". Mumbrella. Diversified Communications. Archived from the original on 17 March 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Crocmedia acquires AFL's publications business". B&T Magazine. The Misfits Media Company. 26 July 2018. Archived from the original on 26 July 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  4. ^ Ralph, Jon (3 August 2020). "AFL Media journalist Mitch Cleary stood down over Brooke Cotchin tweet". The West Australian. Retrieved 4 August 2020 – via Herald Sun.
  5. ^ Riordan, Joey (3 August 2020). "'Betrayal of journalism': Footy world demands AFL backflip on Mitch Cleary controversy". Seven News. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  6. ^ a b Garlepp, Josh (3 August 2020). "Gerard Whateley slams AFL for 'betrayal of journalism' as Mitch Cleary is indefinitely stood down". The West Australian. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  7. ^ Valencich, Glenn (3 August 2020). "Brooke Cotchin urges AFL to reinstate journalist Mitch Cleary". Seven News. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  8. ^ Murphy, Catherine (3 August 2020). "AFL journalist Mitch Cleary resumes job after being stood down for tweeting photo of Brooke Cotchin's coronavirus breach". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  9. ^ Vlotis, George; De Silva, Chris (3 August 2020). "Caroline Wilson urges Mitch Cleary to consider leaving AFL after 'heavy-handed' stand-down call". Nine Sports. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  10. ^ Ryan, Peter (4 August 2020). "Damian Barrett backs AFL decision to stand down Mitch Cleary". The Age. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  11. ^ Waterworth, Ben (5 August 2020). "'The Voice of Treason': Tim Watson hits back on radio after Damian Barrett's swipe". Fox Sports. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  12. ^ Naghten, Tom (20 April 2019). "Luke Hodge whacks 'absolute knob' Damian Barrett over Sliding Doors column". Sporting News. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  13. ^ Fox Sports Staff (3 August 2020). "'No problem being independent when shredding clubs': Eddie slams AFL's journo suspension". Fox Sports. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  14. ^ Connolly, Rohan (5 August 2020). "The AFL's Mitch Cleary disaster just the tip of a worrying iceberg". ESPN. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  15. ^ a b c Happell, Charles (28 April 2013). "More footy reporters than the Herald Sun: why the AFL's media play threatens the big media players". The Citizen. University of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 24 March 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  16. ^ Macintyre, Stuart (15 August 2011). "AFL boss Andrew Demetriou: 'We are trying to control as much as we can control'". The Conversation. The Conversation Media Group. Archived from the original on 4 May 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  17. ^ SportAL (13 October 2016). "AFL's media department is biased - former coach". Sporting News. Perform Group. Archived from the original on 9 September 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.

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