Nine Entertainment has signed an agreement with the NRL for $925 million to broadcast 4 NRL games live each week from 2018. These matches will be played on Thursday Night, Friday Night, Saturday Night and Sunday Afternoon. The deal also includes the Finals, Origin, and other special event matches. The agreement includes all streaming rights for these games, although the NRL can pay for simulcasting certain games, otherwise live distribution of these games across any visual media is the exclusive property of Nine Entertainment.
The average sum over the course of the rights is $185 million, inclusive of contra, and will be reduced if the NRL elects to pay for simulcasting certain matches.
The Agreement includes:
- The NRL would regain control of the season schedule
- There will no double header on Friday nights on Nine.
- The NRL Telstra Premiership will be played over 25 weeks – instead of 26
- A new State of Origin schedule with the second match in each series being played on a Sunday night as part of a stand alone weekend of representative football which will also feature Pacific Nation Tests
- No more midseason ANZAC Test
- International Rugby League will be given a new priority and will be played in a dedicated window after the NRL Premiership season.
This leaves 4 games presently to be negotiated for live coverage, and their streaming rights, as well as NZ and Pay TV rights.
The agreement assumes only 16 teams in the competition.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald
Telstra is currently paying about $75 million annually for NRL digital rights, but it understood to be pulling back from shelling out big money for sports rights, instead wanting to partner with sports and stadiums on technology and production services, while acting as an aggregator for other rights holders to stream content through its upcoming Telstra TV service.
- Nine Acquires NRL Rights (ASX Announcement)
- New FTA Agreement (NRL.com)
- Nine Holds onto NRL FTA rights (SMH)