Nine and Fox Sports link up in bid to retain NRL rights

Australian commercial broadcaster Channel Nine and pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports have teamed up to launch a joint bid to retain their domestic rights for the National Rugby League, the country’s top rugby league competition, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The partnership between Nine and Fox Sports – the current NRL rights-holders in five-year deals, from 2008 to 2012 – would attempt to quash competition from commercial broadcasters Seven and Ten for the next five-year cycle of rights, from 2013 to 2017.

Nine and Fox Sports’ three-month period of exclusive negotiations with the league expire at the end of this month, with the rights set to be opened up to the market in May, regardless of how those talks progress.

Under the partnership, Fox Sports could increase its coverage from five to eight games per round by simulcasting the three free-to-air games shown on Nine, and Nine could increase the number of games it shows from three to four per round.