RUGBY LEAGUE COMMERCIAL is to sell the betting rights to Super League and its other competitions to IMG.
The deal, which was revealed at a recent RFL Council meeting, has been confirmed to League Express by RL Commercial managing director Rhodri Jones.
“We have agreed terms with IMG Arena for our betting and data rights for the 2024-2026 seasons,” said Jones.
“We cannot disclose commercial details, but it is at a significant six-figure value per annum, and is a new revenue stream into the sport.”
Under the terms of the agreement, IMG will now have the right to market Rugby League’s betting rights to multiple gambling companies.
On its website, IMG Arena claims: “Our expertise includes the creation and delivery of some of the world’s best sporting content with our official FastPath Data feeds, Live Streaming services, Events Centres and Virtual Sports products.”
The agreement was foreshadowed in the RFL’s statement to the media more than a year ago, on September 28, 2022, when it revealed IMG’s recommendations in accordance with the twelve-year agreement between that company and the governing body, anticipating agreements with constituent parts of the IMG organisation.
“This work will sit alongside other workstreams being led by IMG and other parts of the Endeavor network to maximise the commercial potential of the sport and build deeper relationships with fans and new audiences,” it said at the time.
“These include content production and innovation, domestic and international distribution of media rights, digital transformation powered by IMG’s digital sports arm Seven League, brand strategy delivered by Endeavor’s cultural marketing agency 160over90, streaming through Endeavor’s OTT platform Endeavor Streaming and data collection, betting product development and streaming rights via its sports data and betting technology business IMG Arena.”
There has recently been an explosion in the value of betting rights, largely caused by the relaxation of gambling rules in the United States. The legalisation of sports betting in dozens of American states in recent years has triggered significant growth in the industry.
In order to take advantage of that, the NRL will open its 2024 season in Las Vegas with a historic double-header on March 2, while opening talks with FanDuel, the US-based betting company, about live-streaming Rugby League matches on its platform to generate income from the rapidly developing American sports betting market.
“We worked out that if all this goes to plan, it has the potential to generate hundreds of millions for Rugby League. Not tens of millions – hundreds of millions,” said Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys.
It remains to be seen whether IMG will be able to benefit from the NRL’s work with the American gambling industry.