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Nine Entertainment Facing Rights Problems On Two Fronts NRL & Stan

Nine Entertainment Co boss Mike Sneesby is facing problems on several fronts he wants to cut the amount of money he pays the NRL despite several competitors circling that wants the rights and he is set to lose several key shows on the Stan streaming network.

After pitching a deal to the NRL earlier this month he is now using Nine Media to spin a yarn that “the NRL isn’t solely focused on large amounts of money from a future broadcast partner”.

According to insiders the NRL is expecting a minimum of $115 million annually for a five-year rights deal, Nine don’t want to pay this amount and is trying to cut a cheaper deal.

Earlier this year they haggled with the NRL to cut this year’s fees due to the impact of COVID-19 on games coverage.

They also don’t want the matches to be split across multiple networks which is one option being considered by the NRL.

Currently the NRL is in talks with the three commercial free-to-air television networks about the potential to run games across multiple networks and ideally wants more than $115 million a year over five years.

Among them is the Ten and Seven Network who both want the State of Origin series held by Nine.

ChannelNews understands that Nine management pitched both Stan and the Nine network as partners for the NRL with selected games being streamed on Stan.

Foxtel the other key partner of the NRL is also pitching to renew their NRL rights after offloading the poorly performing Australian Rugby which Stan picked up.

Desperate to get value out of the $100M Rugby Union deal that Foxtel gave up, Stan took to investing in a major marketing campaign this year to get rugby union fans to sign on for the Rugby.

The move came right in the middle of the NRL season, and this did not go down well with NRL management.

According to sources NRL Chairman Peter V’landys was vocal in the meeting about a lack of promotion for rugby league by Nine, which owns The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, radio, streaming and digital assets and were in a perfect position to promote both codes at the same time.

Foxtel who is tipped to retain the streaming rights, are in better shape now after cutting costs recently renewed their Formula One contract and are seen as being in better financial shape now than they were during the last round of negotiations with the NRL.

CEO Patrick Delany said recently “We are back on the front foot and leaning forward again, looking to the future”.

Also looming in the background is the Amazon owned Amazon Prime Video who have been buying up sporting rights in the USA and Europe.

Sneesby told the Sydney Morning Herald recently “I’d hope we get to the right commercial outcome with the NRL on a longer-term deal, but obviously these deals aren’t all about purely what the dollars involved are,”.

He added “They’re also about what is right for the game, long term. I’m really confident in both [NRL chief executive] Andrew Abdo and [ARLC chairman] Peter V’landys’ focus and ability to develop and grow their game”.

“There isn’t a better media company suited to helping them on that journey and helping to develop the NRL. I know that their view around the game won’t simply be commercial, it’ll be what’s best for the game.”

At Stan, the Nine owned business is facing the loss in September of their Showtime deal which is set to be a blow as it is one the streaming Companies best performing content deals spanning Billions, Power, City on a Hill, The Affair, Your Honour, and Dexter.

The new season of Dexter will be seen on the recently launched Paramount +.

While Stan will have life of series on shows still in production (e.g., Billions), most of these are now 5-6 series and they are ageing and have either finished or will shortly finish production.

STAN will not get any new Showtime shows from September this year.

It has been reported that the business will lose the Showtime library shows which have finished production such as Nurse Jackie, The Good Fight, Twilight Zone, Ray Donovan.

2022 is also looming as a problem year for Stan with the streaming service set to loses the Peacock and Sky Studios content.

Currently Stan has an output agreement with NBCU for Peacock and Sky Studios scripted content. That content will finish on the Nine owned network late in 2022. Again,

STAN will have life of series for shows which they have as at that end date but will get no new shows.

The shows include Brave New World, I Hate Suzie, Gangs of London.

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