Rugby on its knees after broadcaster walks away
February 6 2020 8.34 am
Rugby Australia is looking for a new broadcasting partner with Fox Sports reportedly pulling the pin on their deal at the end of 2020.News Corp Australia, majority owner of Fox Sports Australia and news.com.au, reported that after months of negotiations talks came to an end on Wednesday. The struggling code will potentially look at a deal with Optus, News Corp Australia reported.
Fox Sports has had deals with rugby in Australia dating back to 1996, when the game turned professional.The current television deal, signed in 2015 was worth $285 million, giving RA $57 million a year. Fox Sports and Network Ten are the current domestic broadcasters of rugby in Australia, with Fox Sports showing all Super Rugby games and both screening Wallabies Test matches. “We are preparing to take the package to market early this month,” an RA spokesman told News Corp Australia. Rugby in Australia has had a difficult time in recent years with declining interest in Super Rugby, highlighted by lower crowds and television viewing numbers.
Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle knocked back Fox’s original offer. Fox has now indicated it would be moving on from rugby, parting ways with highly respected rugby commentator Nick McArdle and former Wallaby Drew Mitchell from their roster as well as cutting their weekly rugby show. The Daily Telegraph reports the first round matches averaged just 33,000 viewers last weekend, down 19 per cent on round one last year and more worryingly, games with Australian teams were down 35 per cent.