Fox Sports and Nine will remain the TV broadcasters of the National Rugby League after penning a new agreement with the Rugby League Commission (ARLC).
The deal, worth $1.025 billion – $925m in cash and $100m in contra advertising – was announced yesterday and followed several rival bids by free-to-air networks including Channel Ten and Seven.
NRL has always been the underdog money-wise, compared to the AFL who has previously commanded over $1bn for broadcasting rights, but the deal marks a major increase on previous price tags for the rugby league.
The additional funds will mean an increase in the salary cap for NRL players and also funds will go back into grass roots level to help breed the next generation of Benji Marshalls.
More funds will also go to rugby’s elite level, said ARLC Chairman John Grant.
Fox Sports will continue its ‘Five Live’ games for the next five seasons, introduce a 6.30pm Sunday night match, show coverage of Monday Night Football and Super Saturday, and will increase its NRL Sunday coverage to two live games.
Free-to-air broadcaster Nine will show three weekly matches (two on Friday and one Sunday), Wednesday night State of Origin matches at the usual 7.15 time and two hours of league every night on digital Channel 94.
Fox Sports has also acquired digital rights to stream its five live weekly matches via IPTV and tablet devices.
ARLC chairman John Grant hailed the $1bn agreement as “the greatest deal ever done” by the sporting code.
“Today we answer the $1 billion question with the $1 billion-plus answer.”
“The cash that comes from the agreement, used wisely, will provide a funding base to sustainably grow our game from its grassroots to the elite levels.”
Nine CEO David Gynell hailed to landmark deal as a “must win for us” and a great sport to watch in the winter.
“It is part of our heritage and a must-win for us and I think the price was fair and reasonable.
|“It is the greatest sport for television in the winter months and perfectly complements our cricket coverage.”
Fox Sports CEO, Patrick Delany, said “NRL is in the Fox Sports DNA and we are delighted to have the opportunity to build on our 16-year relationship with the code.
“Our new digital and IPTV rights will also enable us to deliver live streaming of matches to iPad, following the path of Foxtel’s incredibly successful London 2012 app.
“We will also make all of our matches available on demand through Foxtel.”