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The Parksider

The SKY contract for RL - good or bad?

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A significant number of people have argued on here the SKY contract we signed to get at TV money has been bad for the game and has had many detrimental effects.

There's arguments that it hasn't really boosted crowds, that it has destroyed the challenge cup, that it is killing championship clubs, that it has brought down the quality of the GB/England international side and ruined international attendances.

AFAIK we had a choice.

1. To take the SKY money in return for creating a small professional elite league.

2. Take well under a quarter of the sum offered by SKY from the BBC and have more control of what we do with our game but remain semi pro.

Where do you think our game would be today if we had remained semi professional??

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Can't say that I'm an expert when it comes to the fine detail of the sky contract but does sky have a say in whether there's promotion and relegation and the number of SL clubs?

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Without Sky, I reckon that rugby league would now be as big as...lacrosse, real tennis, dwile flunking. Clearly the number of paying spectators has gone up, but the big win comes from the huge amount of money that has been injected into the game by the 150000 to 200000 viewers of the game on Sky.

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My tuppenceworth would be that its not been bad for the game, but then I don't think we've made the most of the money coming in and that for me probably stems back to the initial rampant wage inflation as we secured the contracts of our star players who could have been tempted to the newly professional code of Rugby Union or onto either side of the Australian "Super League War". I bet our top earners now don't earn much, if anything more than our top earners then and the reality is some clubs income are still playing catch up.

As an outsider looking in I think the split caused by the initial contract has probably hamstrung the RFL, I stand to be corrected, but it must be hard for the governing body to put in place long term strategies when your flagship clubs have walked away and could do again taking the flagship competition with them.

I'd have thought the drying up of Union converts did as much to "weaken" the GB team as much as the Sky contract no longer seeing the likes of Davies, Tait and Offiah landing in the game.

Not sure the Challenge Cup has/is been/being destroyed, I'd have to dig out the crowd figures but my gut feeling is that crowds are probably much of a muchness but don't look as favorable these days as corresponding league fixtures now attract larger crowds than they did. Plus our major partner in Sky have probably been guilty of talking down/ignoring the comp as it wasn't one the covered, I expect now it's the best thing since sliced bread and they'll big it up throughout the season!

Ultimately we the fans are as bigger issue as the Sky contract when it comes to crowds in the Challenge Cup, we seem reluctant to support anything outside of our season tickets and finals involving our teams!

The leagues below Super League are a mess, there's tough decisions to be made with regard structure and its future that I don't think have been made yet. I don't think the current set up (which to be fair has been covered to death) does anyone any favours and in my opinion is guilty of trying to be all things to all people.

I'm fully aware of your opinions on clubs building in the Championship, but to me this one of our biggest weaknesses for two reasons. Firstly if we can't sell the game in towns such as Oldham that have played the game in one form or another since day one how can we expect to come up with a formula to sell the game outside of the heartlands? Secondly, clubs need somewhere to build momentum, build fanbases structures, cultivate players and grow, forgetting our existing sides, I just don't see how top down expansion in the UK is ever going to work, so for the sake of expansion in my mind the Championships have to provide a solid foundation that clubs can progress through.

Without the Sky contract, I suspect we'd probably be in a similar position today than we are now, the grounds might be shabbier, more players may have been picked off by the RFU and NRL but we'd still be a game focused to much on infighting and divisions that do the game no good with an underlying feeling that we have "the greatest game" but the next crisis is only a copy of League Express away!

Wasn't mean't to be such a long winded reply sorry - guilty of quantity over quality!

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2. Take well under a quarter of the sum offered by SKY from the BBC and have more control of what we do with our game but remain semi pro.

Slight issue with this in that you assume that is what would have happened. Sky have exclusive rights for RL which prevents the RFL collaborating with anyone else. Without an exclusive arrangement in place you have the ability to look at other formats and revenue streams. Since 1995 there's been an explosion of TV channels and on-line media that RL could exploit.

One could argue that the RFL may have been able to build a broader portfolio for the game. Instead of focussing just on SL, they could have sold different competitions, different packages on different formats. In the long run they may have had more money.

Simply RL would have had to have fallen in a bucket of #### and come out sucking it's own thumb.

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It's been good for the top half of the SL. Everybody else is still struggling.

It's been bad for the national profile of the game as very few people watch Sky as compared to the BBC when they had the TV rights.

The money, whilst good, was clearly inadequate to sustain the full time professional league that Sky wanted. This is the next crisis as contraction of SL seems to be on the agenda due to it's basic unsustainability on the Sky money.

It was unfortunate that Sky bypassed the RFL and signed directly with SL and those complicit in setting up an independent company divorced from RFL control and the susbsequent attempts to successfully freeze out the rest of the senior clubs have a lot to answer for from the perspective of the progress of the whole game rather than of SL in particular.

Even when they did accept new members to SL they still wanted their lions share of the money. It's a miracle that Wakefield survived as long as they did following their promotion when they were denied Sky money at the beginning of their SL extistence. The admission of Gateshead was a bold expansionary move but let's be real here, it was a gamble, as are all expansion clubs, and they denied them SL money.If the RFL had been in charge Gateshead might now be a thriving successful SL club. I suppose though that Hull would not so once again the Sky money was not big enough for what was wanted by Murdoch.

So, whilst no one can doubt that the Sky money was helpful and tthe game was in no position to refuse such a gift horse it was 1. Not enough to sustain the desired league and 2. Created a split within the game and the tail now wags the dog. The RFL are toothless tigers.

I think even the movers and shakers in the SL cabal have come to realise the impasse that has developped as regards future sustainability and this is the reason for the wholesale review of thwe game presently being undertaken.

Not only do we have problems with the Sky money not being enough but we have been hit with a double whammy in that the Sport England money which has done so much to kick start the expansion of the game at grassroots level throughout the country has been drastically cut and these new leagues are shinking ominously as a result.

Yes the Sky money has been good but it has been not been the huge success that many claim.

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When did the BBC have the rights to the top division?

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How much was the offer from the BBC? Were the BBC planning to show 2 live games a week?

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And those RL followers that have a Sky Sports subscription are paying too much and are subsidising Premiership football.

Its about time there was more choice within Sky. Surely, paying for what you watch is more likely with the technology that is around, and with that it may provide an opportunity to negotiate with Sky in a different manner. A RL only channel?

It should cost at least 3 times as much to watch football as it does anything else, but the present set-up does not allow any of this to happen.

I don't have Sky Sports because 1. I really dislike Sky as a company and how they go about their business and 2. I can't justify spending another £250 per year to watch a few RL games as I certainly wouldn't be watching every Friday/Saturday night.

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When did the BBC have the rights to the top division?

Back in the mists of time, the BBC used to show league matches, Cup matches, internationals, and the Wembley Final.They didn't show Keighley or Batley but the top fixture of the week. The coverage was rotten and was shoehorned around the racing etc on Grandstand, their Saturday afternoon sports show. The whole country knew about RL from that though and they made a star out of Eddie Waring, the commentator.

They also used to sponsor a show called the BBC floodlit competition which was shown on, I think, Tuesday nights. As you can imagine only clubs with floodlights could enter but seeing as how they were mostly the big teams they would feature what you might call the First Division teams, although, perversley Bramley won their one and only trophy when they beat Widnes in the final one year.

Needless to say, at the time there were only two TV channels, the game was broadcast to many many millions of fans instead of the couple of hundred thousand who watch Sky.

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And we can do what about the change in TV viewing demographics exactly? Pretend everyone watches the BBC ?

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I forgot to mention in post #11, the BBC also used to televise the the Players No6 knockout trophy and it's subsequent renamed versions, which was a big competition, back in the 80 s and 90 s. Sponsorship and national TV coverage, not bad for a semi pro game.

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Bramley won their one and only trophy when they beat Widnes in the final one year.

.

....ironically, in daylight ... :lol:

Needless to say, at the time there were only two TV channels, the game was broadcast to many many millions of fans instead of the couple of hundred thousand who watch Sky.

No, there were three by that time. The Floodlit Trophy was on BBC2.

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Sponsorship and national TV coverage, not bad for a semi pro game.

Sky's not just national. It's international. So is that better ?

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Back in the mists of time, the BBC used to show league matches, Cup matches, internationals, and the Wembley Final.They didn't show Keighley or Batley but the top fixture of the week. The coverage was rotten and was shoehorned around the racing etc on Grandstand, their Saturday afternoon sports show. The whole country knew about RL from that though and they made a star out of Eddie Waring, the commentator.

They also used to sponsor a show called the BBC floodlit competition which was shown on, I think, Tuesday nights. As you can imagine only clubs with floodlights could enter but seeing as how they were mostly the big teams they would feature what you might call the First Division teams, although, perversley Bramley won their one and only trophy when they beat Widnes in the final one year.

Needless to say, at the time there were only two TV channels, the game was broadcast to many many millions of fans instead of the couple of hundred thousand who watch Sky.

Mostly correct. It was on Tuesday evenings. However, they only showed the second half of the game. Still, it was TGG on terrestrial TV - brilliant! Oh, there were three channels at that time - BBC1, BBC2 and ITV.

edit to add: I see Griff beat me to the three channels.

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And we can do what about the change in TV viewing demographics exactly? Pretend everyone watches the BBC ?

I don't know about the TV viewing demographics but I would hazard a guess that the BBC still has many millions more viewers than Sky. The money comes from Sky and the national exposure comes from the BBC. I think that why the RFL, who still control the Cup and internationals, keep them of the BBC, to keep the game in the national consciousness. In an ideal world both Sky and the BBC would regularly televise the game with just enough coverage on the BBC to whet the puiblic's appetitie to subscribe to SKY.

Do you not think the size of the viewership reduction from the BBC coverage to the Sky coverage is a negative from the Sky deal. I do and that was what the OP was asking for comments about, i.e. is Sky good or bad for the game.

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.

....ironically, in daylight ... :lol:

No, there were three by that time. The Floodlit Trophy was on BBC2.

Thanks for that, your memory is better than mine.

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A significant number of people have argued on here the SKY contract we signed to get at TV money has been bad for the game and has had many detrimental effects.

There's arguments that it hasn't really boosted crowds, that it has destroyed the challenge cup, that it is killing championship clubs, that it has brought down the quality of the GB/England international side and ruined international attendances.

AFAIK we had a choice.

1. To take the SKY money in return for creating a small professional elite league.

2. Take well under a quarter of the sum offered by SKY from the BBC and have more control of what we do with our game but remain semi pro.

Where do you think our game would be today if we had remained semi professional??

A significant number of people have argued on here the SKY contract we signed to get at TV money has been bad for the game and has had many detrimental effects.

Where do you think our game would be today if we had remained semi professional??

Quite simply it wouldn't exist. Union would have gone pro, maybe not when they did, but certainly before 2000, and they would have wiped the floor with us.

Change happens every minute, forget the "what would have happeneds" and lets get this game together!

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Without Sky, I reckon that rugby league would now be as big as...lacrosse, real tennis, dwile flunking. Clearly the number of paying spectators has gone up, but the big win comes from the huge amount of money that has been injected into the game by the 150000 to 200000 viewers of the game on Sky.

So would football, apart from the top 6.

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Sky's not just national. It's international. So is that better ?

I can't answer that as I don't know what revenue RL gets from being shown internationally but I would suspect it's not a lot. I also don't know if any of the BBC coverage was shown abroad. I suspect the internationals were probably seen in Australia and France, but I don't know.

I am not arguing against Sky televising our game, the money is a great help, merely that a negative of their coverage is the relatively small profile the game has on the national consciousness because of the small njumber of Sky customers when compared to the BBC.

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Quite simply it wouldn't exist. Union would have gone pro, maybe not when they did, but certainly before 2000, and they would have wiped the floor with us.

Change happens every minute, forget the "what would have happeneds" and lets get this game together!

Been listening to this scenario for 60 years, of course the game would exist, both codes would, what the TV money has done is kept the codes apart. Sky is quiet happy "drip feeding" both codes with small contracts, giving them a year round product to fill their screens with.

Semi Pro rugby league (which would be the way the game would go) is and was a great product, no it wouldn't die eve if Union "wiped the floor with us" as you say, It certainly cant wipe the floor with us as a specticle, never will, no matter how many rules they change or how many "sugar daddies" they have willing to to loose £millions.

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when the Superleague first came about RL was everywhere, in the news on TV, in the papers, on the radio.. that was because Murdoch had an interest in it being successful and pushed it through all his media outlets, which is exactly what happened with premier league football, blanket coverage across all of Murdoch's media assets, and look where Football is now?.. its always been the most popular sport in the country, but now its at ridiculous levels, all because the Murdoch empire pushed its prized asset. RL could have enjoyed a similar surge, though highly unlikely to those heights, but was held back by the decisions made from within the game..

Sky has been good for RL, as no other broadcaster would have given us anywhere near what we currently have in terms of coverage, but at the same time Sky have often neglected to push and promote the sport to the non RL fans (unlike other sports) and help grow the game. And obviously being exclusively on Sky has mean't our visibility has dropped even more.

The RFL need to push to get every game in a SL round shown on TV, with some games on Sky and some on terrestrial TV.. how and why Sky would agree to that at the moment i do not know.

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The BBC showed RL for many decades and mostly treated it as a joke event. Why was there a petition in 1976 against the BBC and their treatment of the game (and Eddie Waring) if it was all as great as some people are making out? Yes many people were aware of RL but only in the same way they were aware of Kendo Nagasaki or Mick McManuss...almost a novelty thing.

And I'll ask again, how much money were the BBC offering and how many live league games per week?

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when the Superleague first came about RL was everywhere, in the news on TV, in the papers, on the radio.. that was because Murdoch had an interest in it being successful and pushed it through all his media outlets, which is exactly what happened with premier league football, blanket coverage across all of Murdoch's media assets, and look where Football is now?.. its always been the most popular sport in the country, but now its at ridiculous levels, all because the Murdoch empire pushed its prized asset. RL could have enjoyed a similar surge, though highly unlikely to those heights, but was held back by the decisions made from within the game..

Sky has been good for RL, as no other broadcaster would have given us anywhere near what we currently have in terms of coverage, but at the same time Sky have often neglected to push and promote the sport to the non RL fans (unlike other sports) and help grow the game. And obviously being exclusively on Sky has mean't our visibility has dropped even more.

The RFL need to push to get every game in a SL round shown on TV, with some games on Sky and some on terrestrial TV.. how and why Sky would agree to that at the moment i do not know.

I agree with that. You have summed up the situation exactly as it is.

The only thing I can think of as to getting some traction from Sky is to approach all other TV channels, BBC, ESPN, ITV, Premier Sports, Al Jazheera, anyone out there, and see if they would be interested in televising the game and if so, the RFL negotiating team could then go to SKY and have some bargaining chips, i.e. if you don't bend a little we will give the contract to a,b or c, and see if we can still get Sky but without the exclusivity clauses we currently have. If they played ball, then we could approach the BBC to offer them some RL coverage to boost our popularity by exposure to their more extensive viewer numbers.

Will it work ? I have no idea. That's just my suggestion and I have no influence on anything.

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