Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver hopes the negotiation process for the organisation’s next round of broadcast rights can bring about a significant uplift in revenue.
The ARU’s present deal with pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports and commercial broadcaster Ten for games featuring the Australian national team and the Super Rugby regional club competition is worth A$25m (€17.3m/$23.6m) on an annual basis and expires in 2015.
Speaking to the Financial Review Sunday newspaper, Pulver confirmed unspecified interest from other free-to-air broadcasters aside from Ten, adding that he hopes a prospective bidding war could help drive ARU’s television incomes up to the levels of other Australian sports such as soccer, Australian rules football and rugby league.
“There is likely to be continued interest from Ten in some form of relationship,” Pulver said. “And there are other free-to-air networks that are interested. I’m confident there is going to be a fair bit of demand because it’s a great sport for TV. Broadcast revenue growth should be the single biggest contributor to the growth in revenue for Australian rugby.
“We have a relatively modest percentage of our revenue coming from broadcast rights compared with AFL (Australian Football League), rugby league and soccer. So that’s something we are hoping to correct through these current negotiations.”
The Financial Review Sunday said some Australian free-to-air broadcasters are concerned about the capacity of Super Rugby to attract viewers in light of Fox Sports suffering a 10 per cent reduction in audiences for matches when compared to 2013.