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Deep Pockets CBS Viacom Set To Bid For NRL To Bolster TEN

Network Ten owners CBS Viacom has deep pockets and despite poor ratings in the past, the US owned network is currently working on making a major pitch for the rights to NRL according to sources.

The move is seen internally as way for the network to bolster their fortunes and be seen as a major free to air TV network, some insiders have said that the NRL is backing the move as a way to put pressure on the current holders of the free to air rights Nine Entertainment.

One stumbling block is believed to be Foxtel as CBS Viacom also own the recently launched Paramount + and want to stream more sport on their own streaming network this could lead to them making a pitch for the rights to State Of Origin which we understand the Seven Network will also make a bid for.

Currently Nine Entertainment are being pushed to pay more for the NRL rights going forward, as well las sign up for a five-year deal similar to what Foxtel have in place with the NRL.

ChannelNews has been told that the rights could go for $100M up from the $85M a season that Nine are currently paying.

Currently, the NRL receives two-thirds of its total broadcast revenue from Foxtel, which last year extended its pay-TV deal until the 2027 season. NRL boss Peter V’landys is said to want the organisation’s free-to-air deal to be paid up to the same year.

V’landys is also concerned that Nine Entertainment who also have the rights to Rugby Union in Australia after Foxtel chose not to bid for the rights, is heavily promoting Rugby on their Stan streaming network at the expense of NRL.

One source said, “Getting the NRL rights will go a long way to fixing Network Tens profile with consumers”.

“It’s also a cheap way for a US owned network to bolster an Australian owned asset as they also have the benefit of a weak Australian dollar which at A$100M is only US$72M”.

Nine is currently paying for the rights to three weekly Thursday, Friday and ­Sunday games, plus Saturday games in the last month of the regular season, all finals games (including the grand final) and its jewel in the crown, the State of Origin series.

ChannelNews understands that the Seven, Nine and Ten networks are all bidding for State Of Origin Rights and that the NRL could see a “significant lift” in revenue from the rights to the State Of Origin Games.

In the USA CBS Viacom, ESPN/ABC, Fox, and NBC agreed to pay $123 Billion the next 11 years for the rights to air pro football games, a 108 percent increase compared with the $59 billion the networks will have spent when their current deal ends this year.

The NFL games’ total cost will reach about $144 billion when Amazon’s streaming deal is included claim observers/

A Ten insider confirmed to News Corp recently: “We’re interested”, before quickly adding: “but we’re waiting for the NRL’s engagement.”

We also understand that a fight is also emerging for the Australian right to the English Premier League, the world’s most watched soccer competition.

The EPL rights, currently held by Optus, are expected to fetch as much as $80 million annually in the auction which will be held before the end of the year, according to industry sources who requested anonymity because the process is confidential claims the SMH.

The EPL rights auction is expected to be a four-way battle involving two Australian broadcasters, Optus and Stan Sport, and two cashed-up American-owned players, Paramount+ and Amazon Prime Video, which both have aggressive growth ambitions. Stan is owned by Nine Entertainment, which also owns this masthead.

All four companies declined to comment, while the Premier League was also contacted for comment.


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