Wigan Chairman Ian Lenagan is hoping to see Super League continue its recovery from what he sees as the wasted years when the competition incorporated the Super 8s in the latter part of the season.
Although the clubs voted for that structure at the time, many of them discovered that attendances and viewing figures declined in August and September as the fixtures were announced at short notice.
“There is no debate at all that the damage inflicted by the Super 8s league model was even greater than we thought it was, in terms of season ticket sales and attendance,” Lenagan told League Express.
“In terms of the recovery from it, there wasn’t an upsurge last season, but there was a significant difference between the last eight games of the season under this system, and the last eight games under the Super 8s. And more particularly the viewing figures on television were much greater, and were carried through into the play-offs.
“The figures were getting back to what they used to be for a Wigan-Saints or Wigan-Warrington game, which was diminished by the Super 8s and is now getting back to where it should be.”
But the key question facing Super League is what it will be able to command for its next TV deal?
“The price of media rights has fallen in the Premier League and in other leagues, although some of it has been compensated for by international rights,” added Lenagan.
“As far as we are concerned, we want to get as much as we can. But that’s by better promotion of Super League. Ideally we wish it was a year later for the media rights deal to come around.
“We haven’t had long to prepare. But at the end of last year Sky noticed that the attendances were improving. The viewing figures for the last two months of the season were very good and that has been lodged already with them. In the end it’s about how many subscribers and what the viewing figures are.
“If you look at Rugby League we believe there is a high proportion of people who are core, solid Rugby League supporters. And if for example, the contract moves from Sky to somebody else, then they will move with them. There is a much higher likelihood of that than there is with other sports and I’m sure Sky will be aware of that.”