The NRL’s deal with Nine and Fox Sports is worth $500 million over six years and represents a 60 per cent annual increase on the exisiting arrangements.
The agreement, which includes two games on free-to-air television on Friday nights and the return of Monday night football, runs until the end of 2012
The station’s executive director, Sam Chisholm, said the renewal continued a long-standing partnership.
“The contract will see Nine complete 21 consecutive seasons of broadcasting the premiership and continues a State of Origin tradition that dates back to 1983,” he said in a statement released by the NRL.
“Nine and rugby league have together set new standards for sporting broadcasts and we will continue to do so in the years ahead.
“An extra free to air game each week from 2007 and the addition of the Gold Coast should significantly increase network exposure for Queensland teams and indeed the opportunities for Melbourne.”
Fox Sports chief executive David Malone said its contract renewal confirmed rugby league’s popularity on pay television.
“Monday night football will be an extremely exciting opportunity for the code and a great opportunity to further expose the code on a national basis,” he said in a statement released by the NRL.
“Since 2001 Fox Sports has turned Saturday into something super for sports fans at home while promoting the games in a way that has also seen attendances rise.
“In securing the rights until 2012 we are convinced we can generate the same enthusiasm around Monday night from 2007.
“Monday night is a timeslot that has proven a success the world over.”
Among the key components of the deal:
- A 50 per cent increase in free to air matches with the introduction of a Friday night double header on the Nine Network;
- At least one live Friday night broadcast each week;
- Live Monday night football nationally on Fox Sports;
- Commitment to maintain Fox Sports ‘Super Saturday’ format;
- Advance scheduling of matches for up to 11 weeks during the year with 17 rounds scheduled at six weeks or more;
- A 25-round Premiership with each club receiving one ‘bye’;
- A 65 per cent increase in the game’s direct television income;
- Revenue to begin increasing from 2007 (before the termination of existing contracts).;
- An increased commitment to the promotion of Test matches;
- A guarantee of live grand final coverage in Melbourne with a commitment to work with the NRL to improve scheduling of major events in Victoria and other states.