The NRL has opted to stay with free-to-air television network Channel 9, in a new broadcasting deal worth almost 1 billion dollars.
The deal is for the 3 seasons 2018 til 2020 and will earn the NRL $925 million AUD and will see some significant changes to the Rugby League season in Australia.
As part of the deal the following changes will take place:
*25 Rounds of football will be play, instead of the current 26.
*The Second State of Origin match will be played on a Sunday in a rep weekend which will also include test matches between Pacific nations.
*International football will be given more focus, which will see Australian international fixtures played at the end of the NRL season.
*Channel 9 will go from having 2 live games and one delayed telecast match, to four live games, including a regular Thursday night match.
NRL chief David Smith said of the changes “there will be more live and free rugby league on television, and that is what the fans want.”
Smith went on to reveal that the deal with Channel 9 is just the start of the cash windfall for the NRL.
“We still have simulcast rights, pay TV, New Zealand and international television rights to be negotiated.”
Some forecasts have suggested that the NRL could earn itself upwards of $1.8 billion by the time all negotiations and deals have been signed off.
Such a windfall could see the NRL clubs receive a massive increase to the salary cap, upwards of $3 million. The increase could be enough to halt the flow of NRL stars to the Superleague.
However the deal failed to mention whether any expansion sides would be included in future seasons. Also, the fate of the annual City v Country clash could also be in doubt.
More is likely to be revealed once all negotiations have been finalised.