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TV Sales Boom, Foxtel Surges, Football Is Back

COVID-19 has fuelled the purchase of thousands of big TV’s with the bulk being 65″ and over, it’s also led to a surge in demand for NRL football with Foxtel “thrilled” at the response they got to the return of the Rugby code to live TV.

During the past six weeks Foxtel has seen a “significant” pickup in demand according to sources with consumers who deactivated their service switching Foxtel back on for the return of NRL.

A new $1bn-plus broadcast deal means Foxtel’s Fox Sports (majority owned by News Corp Australia,) will keep the rights to the NRL until the end of 2027. Nine has maintained the previous deal to hold the free-to-air rights until 2022 but hasn’t yet extended it. Both Fox and Nine are understood to have been given a 30 per cent discount on their deal until the end of 2022.

Fox Sports said that the return of NRL attracted the highest audience for a regular-season game in six years with both the Nine Network and Foxtel reaping the rewards.

The games delivered a combined audience of 1.273 million viewers across free-to-air and subscription television on Thursday night when Parramatta played the Bronco’s

There was even artificial crowd noise and other atmospheric effects to enhance the ambiences of crowd less stadiums,

Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany told The Weekend Aust­ralian he was thrilled with the reception of the game on Fox Sports, the most-watched fixture since it began simulcasting games.

Fox League’s coverage reached 683,000 viewers, with the 401,000-average including viewing on ­Foxtel NOW and Foxtel Go.

The figures do not include viewers from streamer Kayo Sports or international viewers, with the game televised on Fox Sports One in the US for the first time claimed the Australian.

Consumer electronics retailers who are struggling to get stock of TV’s have told ChannelNews that the return of NRL was a “sales driver” during the past week with demand surging.

At Aldi, a Bauhn 65″ TV sold out within hours despite close to 10,000 being supplied to the retailer by Tempo.

“The restart was the most-watched regular-season simulcast game ever,’’ Mr Delany said. “This a great result for sports fans and Foxtel customers who have been missing live sport and have reconnected and watched the NRL in record­ numbers.’’

Nine sport director Brent Will­iams said the game attracted the highest audience for the network for a non-finals fixture since 2014 and it would continue with the special effects until crowds return.

“The augmented audio, delivered by Australian company aFX, added an extra layer of subtle authenticity and immersion for fans,’’ he said. “We’re excited to be providing it for our viewers and hope it continues to enhance their footy viewing experience.’’

Nine chief Hugh Marks previously favoured the 2020 season being cancelled, which would have saved Nine $130m.

Nine Entertainment are currently facing problems with the broadcaster desperate to save $300m over the next three years.
Recently their Stan service was snubbed by Hollywood Studio’s in awarding new content deals to Foxtel over a bid by Nine Entertainment.

Under the new deal, Nine would save about $27.5m a year on the original one, but with the season­ going ahead this reduces originally forecast cost savings for this year by $64m.

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