Collingwood, Bulldogs hit prime time in AFL fixture
Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs have been thrust into the AFL spotlight in the fixture released for the next eight-week block of the home-and-away season.
The ladder-leading Magpies and in-form Bulldogs will each play four fixtures in standalone Thursday and Friday night timeslots from rounds 16 to 23.
Sydney, Richmond and the Brisbane Lions also feature heavily in those marquee slots, each playing three matches on Thursday and Friday nights.
AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld said the league had prioritised adding more Thursday night matches to the schedule.
There will be Thursday night matches in rounds 16, 17 and 18.
"After record-breaking crowds and viewership numbers in the first nine rounds, we're set to launch into the back-half of the season and into the 2023 Toyota AFL Finals Series," Auld said in a statement.
"We've listened to fans and fixtured an additional three Thursday night games, taking us to 11 for the year – one more than 2022.
"The season is wide open, with at least a dozen teams vying for a spot in September."
The AFL also said it has attempted to place "the best matches in the best timeslots where possible."
It comes after a record total of 3,047,247 fans attended matches across the opening nine rounds.
Carlton featured in five Thursday and Friday night matches over the opening eight rounds of 2023 but have been largely bumped from the marquee slots after questionable form.
The Blues take on arch-rivals Collingwood in round 20 in their only Friday night match from rounds 16 to 23.
The Magpies will play a rare home game at Marvel Stadium in round 23, with the AFL hopeful of a full house for the game against fellow flag fancies Brisbane.
The fixture for rounds 16 to 23 was released on Thursday, with the schedule for round 24 set to be confirmed in July.