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NRL chief outlines goal for next rights deal

NRL chief executive Dave Smith has said the Australian rugby league competition is targeting a 15 per cent increase in annual value from its next broadcast rights deal.

Smith (pictured) was speaking after the NRL today (Friday) unveiled profits of A$49.9m (€34.1m/$38.8m) for its 2014 season. The 2014 NRL Annual Report detailed a A$20m increase in non-broadcast related revenue to A$119.1m, with broadcast revenues of A$225.8m bringing that total up to A$344.9m. Total expenditure was A$295m, allowing the NRL to invest further into what is now a A$50m sustainability fund for the sport.

Commercial broadcaster Nine and pay-television operator Fox Sports in August 2012 signed five-year rights deals, from 2013 to 2017, collectively worth A$1.025bn, or A$205m per year. Smith said NRL clubs should be expecting the 15 per cent increase per year provided the league has its “house in order.”

“Our next rights deal has the potential to secure the game's long-term future,” Smith added, according to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. “The current deal overcame the historical undervaluing of our rights. Around the globe there is a clear trend for the value of sports rights to be increasing.

“We have an opportunity and indeed a responsibility to capture that value for our game. That means more money into the clubs, more money into the game, more money into the players, game development and grassroots.”