HomeNewsRugby LeagueAustralia

NRL ‘close to’ A$2.3bn media rights extensions

ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys speaks to the media during an NRL press conference at NRL headquarters on March 23, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Australia’s National Rugby League has been reported by local media to be this week agreeing seven-year domestic media rights deals worth nearly A$2.3bn ($1.5bn/€1.4bn).

Peter V’Landys, chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission, told Australian news publisher News Corp that he expects the deals, which are extensions of existing agreements with free-to-air broadcaster Nine and pay-television broadcaster Foxtel, to be done by Friday.

The new agreements would cover the remaining three years of the current, 2018-22 cycle, plus four-year extensions until the end of 2026.

Free-to-air broadcaster Seven’s news website reported the deals would be worth an average of A$330m per season. This would be an increase on the A$323m per season the league earns from the two broadcasters under the existing deals for 2018-22. Two weeks ago, Nine and Fox were reported to be seeking large cuts in their rights fees under any extensions. Seven said the payments in the new deal would included a “discounted rate” for 2020, because the season will be shortened this year due to Covid-19. The NRL season is to restart on May 28.

V’Landys was reported by News.com.au to have said in relation to the mooted new deals: “Both partners have acted in great faith and I believe we’re very close…The loyalty factor has been important because you want to look after your partners who have been with the game for a long time.”

The deals would mark the end of a tumultuous negotiation, large parts of  which played out in the media. Only last week, Nine chief executive Hugh Marks said publicly that it was “not a given” that his channels would continue carrying rugby league, and the broadcaster would “have to be hard” during negotiations.