Australian commercial broadcaster Nine has retained domestic rights for the National Rugby League in a deal that will double the value of its free-to-air rights fee for the club rugby league tournament.
The agreement is worth Aus$185m (€125m/$137m) per season over five years, from 2018 to 2022.
Nine will show live coverage of four games per week on free-to-air television and digital platforms on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons at 4pm. The deal includes coverage of the final series and the State of Origin representative series.
The NRL said that it remains in negotiations over pay-television, simulcast and international rights.
“The digital media market is changing rapidly and it is our view that new and exciting opportunities will develop with Fox Sports and other providers,” NRL chief executive Dave Smith said. “By 2018, the digital world will be very different and we want to be in the best possible position to take advantage of any changes. So negotiations with the pay-TV and digital providers will continue and, again, our focus will be on ensuring the most widespread coverage on whatever platform fans choose to watch rugby league.”
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said that Nine’s outlay could rule it out of a competitive bid for the next cycle of rights to the Australian Football League Aussie rules competition.