Fitzpatrick calls for creative broadcasting deal

Rugby League would be naive not to explore the possibility of streaming games on services like Amazon Prime in the future, according to one of the game’s leading chief executives.

Warrington’s Karl Fitzpatrick has established a reputation as one of the most creative CEOs in the game, epitomised by a number of marketing campaigns throughout 2019.

Fitzpatrick believes that Sky remains the sport’s priority in terms of broadcasters ahead of the next television deal negotiations, which are expected to begin some time in 2020. But he also stressed that with Amazon Prime recently streaming the Premier League to great acclaim, it must be something Rugby League considers when it weighs up all its options moving forward.

“I think we’d be naive not to explore that particular avenue,” he said.

“I’m not saying it will work for Rugby League – we don’t really know one way or another. But it’s the way of the world now that services like Amazon Prime and Netflix are at everyone’s fingertips, so we’ve surely got to look at it and realise we might need to explore it.

“There are endless opportunities and possibilities, but Sky are a partner we have a fantastic relationship with. Competitions like the NBA and NRL have services where everyone can see all the games – and again, I’m not saying we’d go down that avenue, but we need to enter this period as a sport with our eyes wide open.”

Fitzpatrick also admitted he thinks it could be possible for fans to see every Super League game live in the coming years, which is a service the NRL already offer.

“That’s a conversation to have for sure,” he said.

“They do it in Australia and, as I said with streaming, it seems to be the way of the world to watch whatever you want, whenever you want. We can’t rule anything out, and we have to be ready for these negotiations and put ourselves in as strong a position as possible.”

Under Fitzpatrick, Warrington posted a significant increase in their average league crowd in 2019 of almost 1,000.

He reports positive news on the Wire’s latest ticket sales for 2020 too, saying: “We’re still tracking a five per cent increase like-for-like on the same stage last year. We’re in a very positive position and we tend to see another spike on the eve of the season. That’s pretty positive, and something we’re very proud of. Everyone is working hard behind the scenes here.”

This week also sees the arrival of Gareth Widdop at the Wolves. Fitzpatrick said that the former St George Illawarra player will go straight into full pre-season training this week, and will be ready for the season-opener in a few weeks’ time.

“He’s back here on the 2nd of January, and he’ll be straight into training with the lads,” he said.

“He’s good to go, he’s ready for training and we can’t wait for him to get started.”

© League Express Mon 30th Dec 2019