DAVID Koch defines the Port Adelaide of his era as club president as a "disruptor" - a "challenger" pushing the agenda well beyond its regular boundaries.

China. Adelaide Oval, fulfilling the vision of his predecessor Brett Duncanson to find the club's future away from the graveyard of Football Park at West Lakes. Sponsorship announcements on the MCG rather than at Alberton Oval. Even dual captains when club tradition dictated otherwise. The disruption was not kept to external issues.

Today, in the lead up to the most-significant deal for Australian sporting television rights, Koch is the traditionalist. He wants to keep every Port Adelaide AFL game on free-to-air television. He will not be short of support. And he will not be clear of pushback from those who are "disruptors" to traditional media with streaming services, mobile access and pay networks.

These are interesting times in how Australian football will be presented and delivered to the fans.

Since Port Adelaide entered the national league in 1997, every Port Adelaide game for AFL premiership points has been shown on free-to-air television by the commercial networks at Seven, Nine and Ten.

It has not always been smooth transmission. In one season, someone at Ten headquarters in Sydney failed to flick a switch to ensure a Port Adelaide match from Tasmania was screening on South Australian televisions. A fair chunk of that first quarter was never seen in Adelaide.

Port Adelaide chairman David Koch says he would like to keep every Port Adelaide AFL game on free-to-air television. Image: AFL Photos.

There has been those Fox Footy exclusive games not released to Channel Seven until that match was finished. But these matches still made it to free-to-air television in a throwback to the 1970s when Port Adelaide fans would be at the venue for the 2.20pm start on Saturday and home (via a watering hole) after sunset for the Big Replay hosted by Mike Coward on Seven.

But whether it be live, delayed or shown on replay, all Port Adelaide fans in South Australia have had their club's matches on free-to-air television. This has been a blessing considering the same has not been on offer to the fans of the Victorian-based AFL clubs. As the devotees of the old Footscray made it known at the weekend, a 1992 clash with Sydney had no television coverage - nor any radio call. Remarkable.

And it seems - while the AFL looks at streaming services or to allowing Fox Footy to have exclusive hold on games - that the blessing is about to end for Port Adelaide fans (along with those at West Australian-based clubs West Coast and Fremantle).

Koch and Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan last week were vocal on this impending change.

Koch is reading the room at Port Adelaide saying: "Nothing annoys Port Adelaide fans more than watching a game on delay, let alone not being able to access it on free-to-air in the first place."

In Perth, McGowan said: "Free-to-air television coverage of (West Coast and Fremantle) goes a long way to growing the game from the junior grassroots level, to country footy and all the way to professional level. It would be a sad day for Australia if people lost the opportunity to watch football for free."

The lesson certainly is made by how English cricket has suffered since the game was taken off free-to-air television. In Australia, both basketball and soccer had their national leagues sink without free-to-air television broadcasts.

"I'd strongly urge the AFL to stick with free-to-air viewing of football," McGowan concluded on his social media feed.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has as one of his farewell tasks from headquarters in Melbourne the critical task of selling the league's television rights that are underwriting more and more of the game's bills.

The new money in television is in streaming services - Amazon, Netflix, Kayo, Paramount ... It is pay-per-view with access anywhere in the world rather than just in the loungeroom, the extra television set in the kitchen, the big screen at the pub and the super screen at the club.

McLachlan returned from his study trip to the USA in May vowing to keep the AFL on free-to-air television when the new deal launches in 2025.

"We have three-to-four games of nine each weekend on free-to-air and we will not compromise that," McLachlan said.

"We will still have - give or take - that core amount of content on free-to-air television because it is important that everyone can access our game - and the best game (currently seen as Friday Night Football) for free."

Departing AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has urged the AFL to ensure free-to-air viewing of football remains. Image: AFL Photos.

But there is no guarantee that every Port Adelaide game will stay on free-to-air television. Hence, David Koch's remarks last week.

Television and Australian football have had an interesting association since the game made it to the small screen with black-and-white images after the technological advances made with coverage of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956.

First, Australian football was suspicious - and locked television our fearing telecast would hurt ticket sales at the gate. By the turn of the century, the AFL was endorsing live-against-the-gate telecasts arguing the television coverage would encourage fans to go to matches to experience the real thing.

In between, the game found television was prepared to pay big money for rights - and television enjoyed the big ratings that generated bumper advertising returns. The most-recent AFL television deal (before the COVID pandemic) delivered an Australian record $2.508 billion for six years when it was negotiated in 2015. There was a $946 million extension for 2023-2024.

And subscription television has been prepared to pay - and show - more than free-to-air television. It is therefore understandable that Foxtel has wanted to keep more and more from free-to-air television partner, the Seven network.

Now the challenge for the AFL is to get the balance right - and please most at a time when it might be impossible to satisfy everyone in the television world and among the fan bases.

A leading consultant in negotiations for Australian sporting television rights recently noted the importance of free-to-air television to sport saying: "Think of the Big Bash that started on free-to-air television. Then, Cricket Australia went, 'How good is this?' We can make a lot more money if we split the rights (between free-to-air television and pay-TV).

"And what happened? The Big Bash crashed ... and no-one wanted to buy it."

Not every Port Adelaide fan can get to every home game at Adelaide Oval. And very few can go to every Port Adelaide game played away from Adelaide Oval. Television is an important part of the fans' connection with their football club on match day.

Many elderly fans have lived their football passion at weekends through the television - and are not eagerly adopting new media such as streaming services. There also is the cost of subscription packages that include AFL matches.

Koch has made it clear that he does not want the game to lose more than it gains by ending the guarantee of having every Port Adelaide AFL match on free-to-air television.

Since 1997, it has been a very good relationship between Port Adelaide fans and the television (even if it has meant turning off the volume at times to mute certain commentators). Will it continue? Many fans certainly hope it will .... some have no other way to see Port Adelaide.