NRL Rights Deal Step in the Right Direction

0 Submitted by on Thu, 26 November 2015, 15:16

The NRL has finally signed off on a new deal with Fox Sports that sees the game reap a respectable $1.8 billion for the next tv rights deal, starting in 2017.

Could the game have done better? I think so. The AFL did (to the tune of $2.5 billion from 2017-2022) but they have more teams, which equals one more televised game every week and bigger crowds even though they don’t rate as well on tv, so there was an arbitrage opportunity to be taken advantage of. Surely State of Origin is worth the equivalent of one extra game per week for the duration of the season, given it is now the marquee sporting event in Australia?

The AFL also bargain harder with their product although they have less to offer. It’s the way it’s sold that makes all the difference. It’s also the influence of those who are negotiating on behalf of the AFL that makes a significant difference.

Nine Entertainment Company (NEC) on sold the rights for the Saturday night game to Fox for $35 million per year for five years. This give Fox their usual Super Saturday lineup and they can now boast to broadcast every game live. $175 million over five years. Nice!

Maybe the NRL can look to a gradual move to a four quarter game, to increase advertising revenue? The AFL broadcast 198 free to air regular season games over 22 rounds, plus the finals. The NRL broadcast less games due to two less clubs and split rounds, but surely Origin makes up the difference but does a $700 million difference sound reasonable to you?

One of the best features of the new deal is a dedicated channel for Rugby League, set to run 24/7. There is a lot of content to keep the average league fan happy when their team is on a bye week. Maybe the NRL and Fox should focus showing highlights of the teams who are on their bye week on the new channel??? Keep the viewer engaged at all times.

Is this a result of Fox losing the EPL to Optus? The cynic in me says yes.

With regards to the new broadcast deal, hopefully the salary cap will increase in line with the new deal and the RLPA can get their members the best result possible? It is my belief the current cap level is paltry at best and bread lineĀ at worst. Sure, the marquee players will want a bigger slice of the pie, but the average first grader should receive a higher minimum wage in line with salary cap increases so the marquee players don’t eat up all of the cap increase. Sound fair? I thought so.

If the salary cap costs the NRL $100 million roughly each year and the rights are worth $450 million each year, where is the remainder being spent? I would have thought the wage bill for the players would be the single largest expense? There’s $350 million still to play with here…

Grass roots needs more funding too and lots of it. If the game in the bush continues to wither on the vine, there will be no game in 20 years. And it can’t be left to the regional clubs to foot the bill of developing elite junior talent just for the big city clubs to come in and lure them away with big money offers.

We have probably seen some stabilisation in this area with the Raiders building a good squad with the mix of local and imported talent while the Roosters come back to the pack after losing RTS and James Maloney with no major signings for next year.

Monday night football looks to be on theĀ guillotine as well, with the experiment a failure. There is also the introduction of an early Friday night game. I am against this as it looks like a reincarnation of MNF, but with less chance of success. Who will attend these games outside of NZ? I’ve had my rant on this one so I’ll leave it alone for now and re-visit when we have some facts and figures to work off.

The champagne bottles are sure to be popping at Moore Park, but I wouldn’t be cracking open the Moet & Chandon, I’d be reaching for the Brown Brothers Moscato. Harsh, but fair.



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Avid Canberra Raiders and Denver Broncos fan. Father of two and lover of all...well, not quite.

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