ARLC announce a new billion dollar deal, but at what cost?

John Grant

Well, it was the big, huge, massive, deal that everyone was waiting for, and the NRL got it – they cracked the $1 bilion barrier in regards to their new TV rights deal, with Channel Nine and Fox Sports agreeing to show NRL games, in a new 5-year deal.

The agreement, which is the largest in the history of the National Rugby League, sees the commitment from both Channel Nine and Fox Sports, to introduce new technologies into the game to bring fans even closer to the action – as well as continued broadcasting revenues.

“The whole package is a simply fantastic result for Rugby League,” Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman, Mr John Grant, said after signing a formal heads of agreement this morning.

“The cash that comes from the agreement, used wisely, will provide the funding base for sustainably growing our game from the grass-roots to the elite levels.

“The agreement around scheduling answers the request from our clubs and corporate partners for certainty and the inclusion of national coverage will see our fans across Australia able to enjoy their Rugby League.

“Of great importance, and a factor that played heavily into the Commission’s final decision, is the release by News, Fox and Nine of their rights over future ‘first and last’ agreements.

“It reflects the positive spirit of the negotiation process and allows the game greater control in determining the value of its assets in the future.”

The new agreement will include:

1. A cash component of $925m , $90m of which will be paid prior to the season.
2. Advertising packages to the value of $90m.

When it comes to the Nine Network, they will broadcast the following:

1. Three weekly matches, two on Friday and one on Sunday.
2. Three Thursday night matches over the course of the year.
3. The stand-alone Test and City v Country clash, on the same weekend.
4. Wednesday night State of Origin games.
5. A night-time grand final at 7:15pm.
6. The Roosters v Dragons clashes on ANZAC Day.
7. Two hours of RL content every evening on digital Channel 94, with two additional hours of content on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
8. Coverage of the Intrust Super Cup on weekend afternoons.

For Fox Sports, their duties and coverage will be the following:

1. Five weekly matches across three days (Saturday, Sunday and Monday), all to be shown live.
2. Thirteen Sunday evenings games, to be played at 6:30pm, over the course of the year.
3. The annual ANZAC Day Clash between the Melbourne Storm and the New Zealand Warriors (bar 2014).
4. Three non-NRL matches played in conjunction with games from the NRL Telstra Premiership (Toyota Cup, NSW Cup or GIO Schoolboys Competition).

Mr Jeff Browne, who is the Managing Director at the Nine Network, said that the organisation was thrilled to have the new deal renewed for the next 5 years, with the NRL.

“Nine’s Rugby League telecasts have won international acclaim and are fundamental to Nine’s Wide World of Sports brand.

“We are the gold standard in sports coverage and are delighted to bring the great game of Rugby League to our loyal viewers across the country as the exclusive free to air broadcaster.

“We have outstanding technical people, commentators and a team of experts who live and breathe Rugby League and they are passionate about achieving even higher standards in the next five years.”

Patrick Delany, who is the Chief Executive at Fox Sports, said that the entire TV rights deal is a win for viewers and fans of the sport, across the country.

“This agreement secures a fabulous line-up of matches for Fox Sports subscribers.

“Super Saturday and Monday Night Football have become a way of life for Rugby League fans and Fox Sports is determined to make that experience more exciting and more interactive than ever before.

“Rugby League is a part of Fox Sports and Foxtel’s DNA and we are delighted to be able to continue bringing the live action to households across Australia every week.”

For current interim CEO of the NRL, Mr Shane Mattiske, although he too was pleased that the deal had finally been all sorted, he knows that there is still more work that has to be done for the development of the NRL.

“As significant as this agreement is there are still substantial broadcasting properties yet to be negotiated.

“These include our New Zealand television rights and our mobile and website properties.

“It is too early to put a figure on these but certainly the value of the overall broadcasting package is going to increase, as will the opportunities that fans have to experience Rugby League.”

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