NRL to step up rights talks as AFL stalls – report

Australian rugby league competition the NRL will bring forward by one year the start of negotiations over its next broadcast rights deal, according to The Australian.

The newspaper said Australian Rugby League Commission chief executive David Smith contacted the bosses of current rights holders, commercial broadcaster Nine and pay-television operator Fox Sports, today (Friday) to give formal notification that he will commence the process next 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.

The Australian said Smith has also contacted commercial broadcasters Seven and Ten, with the “audacious move” designed to exploit the delay in rights talks for Aussie rules football league the AFL.

The AFL Commission, the organisation responsible for negotiating the next cycle of domestic rights to the AFL, has elected to postpone talks due to uncertainty surrounding the future of Ten, a likely bidder in the process.

In February, Smith said NRL clubs should be expecting a 15 per cent increase in value per year from its new rights deal provided the league has its “house in order.”