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ARU chief plays down ratings drop-off

Bill Pulver, the chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union, the governing body of rugby union in the country, is confident a recent drop-off in viewing figures for the national team will not have an adverse impact on talks for the next cycle of rights beginning in 2016.

Pulver told Australia’s Daily Telegraph that he had “concerns” about any fall in viewing figures after an audience of almost one million viewers on commercial channel Ten for Australia v New Zealand on August 16 fell to 250,000 for Australia v New Zealand on September 13.

However, he added: “An acceptable audience 10 years ago is very different to what it is today. When you take that point, and you map it up against the fact our ratings have actually been pretty strong, I am not expecting (ratings drop) to have any negative impact at all from a broadcasting negotiation perspective."

Ten currently shows coverage of Australia national team matches in a sublicensing deal with pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports.

Ten and commercial rival seven are reported to be the two companies that would be most interested in the national team’s next cycle of free-to-air rights.