NRL TV rights: The $1.7 billion broadcast deal that will transform rugby league
PHIL ROTHFIELDSPORTS EDITOR-AT-LARGE THE DAILY TELEGRAPH AUGUST 04, 2015 10:17AM SHARE
Fans will never miss a match in the NRL’…EVERY game in every round will be shown live on television for the first time in rugby league history as part of the NRL’s soon-to-be-secured $1.7 billion broadcast deal.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal stunning new elements of negotiations for the richest television contract in Australian sporting history that is expected to include sweeping changes to match scheduling.
The deal would go from 2018 until the end of the 2022 season.
In the key developments:
● FOX Sports is bidding to show every match live, the same as it does in the AFL;
● THE double-game schedule on Friday nights will be scrapped, replaced by one on Thursday nights to get the stronger prime-time, free-to-air ratings. Fans will no longer have to sit up until midnight to watch a delayed telecast of the second game with more than 70 advertisements.
● THE future of Monday night football on Fox Sports is in doubt because the NRL does not want to play its rounds over five days and potentially fatigue its audiences.
Struggling clubs and elite players will be the biggest winners when annual grants are expected to increase towards $12 million for each club and $11 million for the salary cap.
This is a move that should finally get all 16 clubs onside after months of unrest and even threats by 12 non-aligned NRL clubs to refuse to sign new participation agreements and possibly lead to a breakaway.
At the moment clubs get grants of $7.8 million a year and spend $7.5 million on the salary cap.
The $4.2 million grant increase would be justified by a whopping 70 per cent jump in the broadcasting money from free-to-air, pay television and digital platforms from the current deal of $1 billion.
The superstars of the game such as Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis could expect to earn upwards of $1.5 million a season.
The biggest victory for fans will be having eight games live every weekend. The free-to-air networks are willing to agree to this because only 30 per cent of households have pay television.
The future of Monday night football is in doubt under the new negotiations because the games are so poorly attended, with an average crowd figure of only 11,250 this year.
Interestingly, during the broadcast discussions there has been no talk of expansion or extra time slots that would become available from including a second New Zealand team, a Perth club or a second Brisbane side.
That’s not to say expansion won’t happen. There will be special clauses in the new deal concerning the possibility of more content should new teams enter the competition.
One sticking point is the NRL’s wish to play an extra game on free-to-air television to get the bigger reach and audience.
This could mean Channel 10 getting one game per week from Fox Sports and Nine keeping three.
However, this would considerably reduce the money Fox Sports is prepared to pay because having only four exclusive games instead of five would affect its subscription numbers.
Would you want to sign up for Foxtel if you can get half the games for free?
Stars like Johnathan Thurston could expect to earn upwards of $1.5 million a season.
The most likely broadcasters will be Channel 9, Fox Sports, Telstra and Sky TV in New Zealand, although networks Ten and Seven are still in serious discussions.
The only certainty about the State of Origin coverage is that it will remain on free-to-air and that is currently rated a more valuable product than even the grand final.
All three networks are bidding for it but it is likely to remain with the major free-to-air player, most likely Channel 9.
Under the new agreement, three games would be played on Saturdays, three on Sundays and one on Thursday and Friday.
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/nrl/nrl-tv-rights-the-17-billion-broadcast-deal-that-will-transform-rugby-league/story-fnp0lyn3-1227468567930?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A dailytelegraphnrlndm (Daily Telegraph | NRL)