NRL on free-to-air on Saturdays a possibility

We have footy on free-to-air TV on Fridays and we have it on Sundays. Now, fans want to see footy on Saturday as well after research from the NRL concluded that fans want footy on all three days.

It’s clear that Fox Sports have a phenomenal viewership on Saturday’s in light of their comprehensive Saturday afternoon and night coverage, but the calls have come in for free-to-air television to also show games on Saturday.

Given James Packer’s recent crusade into Channel 10, buying approximately 15% of the channel, he has expressed a strong desire to get the NRL onto Channel 10 and with his financial backing, they certainly have the money to work with.

Current NRL channel, Channel 9 will have a tough task in retaining the NRL TV rights given that they have both Seven and Ten breathing down their necks, both itching for the chance to bid for the rights when the current deal expires.

“While Super Saturday is very successful on Fox Sports, our research suggests a big appetite for a free-to-air game on a Saturday night,” NRL boss David Gallop said last night.

“It would be great to have coverage on free-to-air over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

As part of the current deal in place, Nine currently shows 2 games on a Friday night, and one on a Sunday afternoon.

Should the current format change, Nine may be forced to forfeit one of their Friday night games, and have it shifted to Saturday night.

This possibility however will most likely have to wait until 2013, as Fox Sports have no intentions of letting go of any of their Saturday clashes until the current NRL TV rights deal expires in 2013.

According to television industry sources, it is believed that Ten are unwilling to venture into the market for NRL games on their own, and as a result, they want to go in with a rival network and bid for the right to show NRL games collectively.

In regards to the possibility of Nine and Ten forming a joint bid to get the NRL games, Gallop replied said: “It’s too early to say but no doubt the whole landscape is fascinating.”

“I wouldn’t be shocked if Nine and Ten got together, but Nine hasn’t made a habit of sharing,” said one source.

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