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NRL could separate properties in new rights cycle

The NRL, which operates the top division of rugby league in Australia, could sell rights to the State of Origin series between New South Wales and Queensland separately from its next cycle of rights for the top-tier Premiership, according to chief executive Dave Smith.

“I think there are lots of ways to skin the cat,” Smith told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. “Many other professional sports segment their properties and build franchises.”

Smith also mentioned the Grand Final and Finals series as strong standalone properties operated by the NRL.

On Friday, the NRL said that it would bring forward talks over the next cycle of rights by one year.

According to the Australian newspaper, Smith has contacted executives at current rights holders – commercial broadcaster Nine and pay-television operator Fox Sports – to give notification that he will commence negotiations this week.

Nine and Fox Sports in August 2012 signed five-year rights deals, from 2013 to 2017, collectively worth A$1.025bn (€735.8m/$791.9m), or A$205m per year.