The NRL, television giants Fox Sports, the Nine Network and Australia’s largest telecommunications company Telstra have signed an historic $1.8 billion agreement that will see every game broadcast live.
And Fox Sports will introduce a 24-hour channel devoted entirely to Rugby League on its PayTV network. Fox will have their existing ‘Super Saturday’ triple-header, broadcast from 3pm to 9.30pm and matches on Sunday afternoon and Monday night. The Saturday games will be preceded by NSW Cup and Under-20s NRL matches and will be followed by Super League clashes from Britain.
Fox Sports will pay around $900 million, the Nine Network $650 million and Telstra around $150 million. International rights are expected to be sold for between $75 million and $100 million, so British fans should be able to watch all eight NRL games live each weekend as well as State of Origin encounters and Test matches.
Most of the new early evening Friday night games will be from Auckland, Melbourne and the Gold Coast to ensure large attendances.
Because of peak-hour traffic fans would find it difficult getting to venues in Sydney in time for kick-off and the legal terms of the rental of Suncorp Stadium at the Lang Park complex in Brisbane prevent early evening games because of possible congestion at the nearby Milton railway station. The Melbourne clashes would enable general sports fans to walk to nearby venues before the kick-off for Australian Rules football (AFL) games.