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Billion dollar deal secures game's future

The Australian Rugby League Commission has today announced a five-year broadcasting agreement with Nine and Fox Sports that will invest more than $1billion in the future of the code.

The largest agreement in Rugby League’s history delivers national television exposure across all games, advanced scheduling, increased programming, key broadcast innovations and leaves the Commission free to pursue further significant broadcasting revenues in New Zealand and through mobile and other on-line properties.

Both Fox Sports and Nine have committed to ensuring that viewers across the country will experience new technologies that bring NRL fans closer to the game than ever before.

“The whole package is a simply fantastic result for Rugby League,” Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman, Mr John Grant, said after signing a formal heads of agreement this morning.

“The cash that comes from the agreement, used wisely, will provide the funding base for sustainably growing our game from the grass-roots to the elite levels.

“The agreement around scheduling answers the request from our clubs and corporate partners for certainty and the inclusion of national coverage will see our fans across Australia able to enjoy their Rugby League.

“Of great importance, and a factor that played heavily into the Commission’s final decision, is the release by News, Fox and Nine of their rights over future ‘first and last’ agreements.

“It reflects the positive spirit of the negotiation process and allows the game greater control in determining the value of its assets in the future.”

The agreement was signed this morning following several days of intense negotiations with representatives of all commercial television networks.

The formal negotiation commenced with Nine and Fox Sports in February this year.

A meeting of the Commission yesterday evening empowered the negotiating committee to sign a formal heads of agreement with Nine and Fox Sports which was executed at 9.50am today (August 21).

The agreement includes:

» A cash component of $925m, $90m of which will be paid prior to the start of the first season;
» Advertising packages to the value of $100m;
 
» The Nine Network will broadcast:
 
» Three weekly matches (two on Friday and one on Sunday);
» Three Thursday evening matches over the course of the year;
» A stand-alone Test and City v Country weekend;
» Wednesday night State of Origin matches;
» A night-time Grand Final (7.15pm kick-off);
» The Roosters Dragons Anzac Day matches;
» Two hours of Rugby League content each evening on digital Channel 94 plus two hours of content on Saturday and Sunday morning;
» Nine will ensure that all of its matches are telecast on either the ‘primary’ or ‘digital’ station in each state;
» The Queensland In Trust Super Cup.
 
» Fox Sports will telecast:
 
» Five weekly matches across Saturday, Sunday and Monday;
» Thirteen Sunday evening matches (6.30pm) over the course of the year;
» The Storm v Warriors Anzac Day game (other than in 2014)
» Three non NRL matches each week played in conjunction with the Telstra Premiership game (which will be shared between Toyota Cup, NSW Cup and GIO Schoolboys Cup);
 
» Nine and Fox Sports will provide coverage of The Four Nations Tournament;
» The first 20 rounds of the Premiership will be scheduled in advance of the season;
» The final six rounds will be scheduled at Round 16;
» Both Nine and Fox Sports will work together to stage two player development academies to train players in media presentation.

 

Nine Network Managing Director, Mr Jeff Browne, said that the network was over the moon at renewing its long and proud association with Rugby League.

“Nine’s Rugby League telecasts have won international acclaim and are fundamental to Nine’s Wide World of Sports brand.

“We are the gold standard in sports coverage and are delighted to bring the great game of Rugby League to our loyal viewers across the country as the exclusive free to air broadcaster.

“We have outstanding technical people, commentators and a team of experts who live and breathe Rugby League and they are passionate about achieving even higher standards in the next five years.”

Fox Sports Chief Executive, Mr Patrick Delany, said that the rights agreement would be a win for viewers across the country:

“This agreement secures a fabulous line-up of matches for Fox Sports subscribers.

“Super Saturday and Monday Night Football have become a way of life for Rugby League fans and Fox Sports is determined to make that experience more exciting and more interactive than ever before.

“Rugby League is a part of Fox Sports and Foxtel’s DNA and we are delighted to be able to continue bringing the live action to households across Australia every week.”

While celebrating the agreement with Nine and Fox Sports, Interim ARLC Chief Executive, Mr Shane Mattiske, said that there are still further opportunities in broadcast rights for Rugby League:

“As significant as this agreement is there are still substantial broadcasting properties yet to be negotiated.

“These include our New Zealand television rights and our mobile and website properties.

“It is too early to put a figure on these but certainly the value of the overall broadcasting package is going to increase, as will the opportunities that fans have to experience Rugby League.”

Mr Grant added that the negotiation process had underlined the confidence that all parties saw in the future of Rugby League:

“It’s been a difficult, complex and at times stressful process and we appreciate the confidence all parties have shown in our game by the innovative proposals they’ve put to us for consideration.

“From the Commission’s perspective we ensured that we engaged the right people to assist us in Greenhill Caliburn and that business-like approach has paid some real dividends.

“Interim Chief Executive Shane Mattiske and his team have been outstanding throughout the whole negotiation as have the other Commissioners - Ian Elliot as Chair of our Broadcast Sub-committee and Jeremy Sutcliffe and Gary Pemberton and our legal advisors.

“I think the entire game is entitled to feel proud of what has been achieved. It is a great tribute to the players and the clubs and the important thing now is to maximise the opportunities we now have for the future.���

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