According to FOX Sports Executive Director Steve Crawley, Jonathan Brown was at a Logies event when something Matty Johns said sparked an idea -and a little bit of envy.
Johns was talking about his NRL entertainment show, The Matty Johns Show, which has been screening on FOX Sports since 2013.
“Jonathan said to Matty at the table, after they’d had a couple of beers, ‘How come you guys are allowed to have fun and we’re not?’ It wasn’t a bad point,” Crawley tells TV Tonight. “That’s where Best on Ground started.
“Patrick Delany got some money in the COVID years and said, ‘What should we do ?’ So we said, ‘Let’s build a big set out the back of the studios in Dorcas Street that can hold a crowd of 100 and let’s have a crack at an entertainment show?’”
In March the show hit screens with its presenters, Brown, Mark Howard, Kath Loughnan, Nathan Buckley and Nick Riewoldt.
Joined by a studio audience, and band led by ex-Melbourne Demons, Russell Robertson, it has been screening late on Saturday nights and drawing a crowd. Last week it scored 360,000 STV viewers following an AFL Preliminary Final.
“It’s quite late but it’s doing numbers of shows that are on a lot earlier on Subscription TV. It’s doing linear numbers of mid hundreds every week,” he continues.
“When the game finishes at 10 it will do a bit better than that. It’s on at 11:00 o’clock at night doing those numbers. It’s struck a chord with the public.”
Crawley maintains that its charm is in not being another footy talk show.
“We’ve got a couple of writers in and they’ve been a hit. It’s very different to making an entertainment show to a Footy show. I was really excited about doing it in Melbourne because that’s where the entertainment shows were, as you know. It was famous for them. It was quite sad that all those shows from when we were kids have and the studios, like the ones that we’re filling now in the old Channel Seven, have gone.”
Best on Ground, like its northern counterpart, places its presenters in humorous skits. For their Grand Final edition tonight the show will feature the best ten moments from the show, in front of the biggest studio audience for 2022.
Howard, Loughnan, Brown, Buckley and Riewoldt will also perform their first live skit, face-off in a Grand Final Macca’s ‘What Are You Lovin’ Moment and unpack their Top 10 Clangers.
“Nathan Buckley’s the most serious guy in the world. On this show, people have been amazed at the skits that he does, and the way that he gives of himself, it’s quite amazing. Same with Nick Reiwoldt, Jonathan Brown. People are seeing them in a very different light.
“I’m totally impressed with how much they give of themselves given to the show and how much fun they’ve made for others.”
If Crawley has his way, the show will kick things up a notch in 2023, although he isn’t saying if it means a new time slot or bigger budget, just yet.
“It’s a really big couch so there are people that I can see sitting on that couch,” he teases.
“I’m really happy with the way the show is and the five people that are on it have done a great job. But I reckon it’s such a good show that I think we can build on that.
“We’re very proud of the way that it’s going, the way that it’s stuck its head up. We’ve decided we will really put some focus on that show and and make it better than it is today.
“But we’re pretty happy with where it is after after its first season.”
Best on Ground: Grand Final edition 7pm tonight on FOX Footy.