Rugby League has today set a new standard in Australian sporting rights, guaranteeing the game�s financial future for the next seven years.
Contracts have this afternoon been renewed with both the Nine Network and FOX SPORTS until the end of 2012 in a rights negotiation that will see more matches on free to air television, more live games on subscription television and more investment in every level of the game.
The early renewal is a clear sign of the confidence in Rugby League�s growing attendances and its ratings dominance among more than half Australia�s population in NSW and Queensland.
NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said the decision by both Nine and FOX SPORTS to renew their Rugby League rights as a number one priority was especially significant.
�Rugby League is a way of life for more than half the people in Australia and these contracts recognise that fact.
�We have growing crowds and an expanding competition ensuring that the game�s popularity will continue to rise.
�Our existing agreements expire at the end of 2006 and 2007 but in negotiating an early renewal we have ensured financial growth both in the short and long term.
�We will see some revenue increase in 2007 with the major growth from 2008.
�Changes to the competition format and scheduling will begin from the 2007 season.
�But the security of these contracts between now and 2012 ensures that we can divert much needed funding to clubs immediately raising the grant by $250,000 in 2006 and $500,000 in 2007.
�While that will ensure better security and services for players, we will also be in a position to discuss direct Salary Cap increases during next year�s Collective Bargaining Agreement talks.
�Importantly the game�s national development plan and five year strategic plan will also enjoy greater certainty and resourcing.�
Key components of the deal include:
- A 50% increase in free to air matches with the introduction of a Friday night double header on the Nine Network. - At least one live Friday night broadcast each week. - Live Monday Night Football nationally on subscription television. - Commitment to maintain FOX SPORTS �Super Saturday� format. - Advance scheduling of matches for up to 11 weeks during the year with 17 rounds scheduled at 6 weeks or more. - A 25 Round Telstra Premiership with each club receiving one �bye�. - A 65% increase in the game�s direct television income - Revenue to begin increasing from 2007 (before the termination of existing contracts). - An increased commitment to the promotion of Test Football. - A guarantee of live Grand Final coverage in Melbourne with a commitment to work with the NRL to improve scheduling of major events in Victoria and other states. Executive Director of PBL Television, Sam Chisholm, said that the contract renewal continued arguably one of the most outstanding partnerships between the Nine Network and a sporting body.
"The contract will see Nine complete 21 consecutive seasons of broadcasting the premiership and continues a State of Origin tradition that dates back to 1983.
�Nine and Rugby League have together set new standards for sporting broadcasts and we will continue to do so in the years ahead.
�An extra free to air game each week from 2007 and the addition of the Gold Coast should significantly increase network exposure for Queensland teams and indeed the opportunities for Melbourne.�
The Chief Executive of FOX SPORTS, Mr David Malone, said today that the renewal of its contract was confirmation of the astounding popularity of Rugby League on subscription television.
The NRL attracts over 1.1million viewers a week on FOX SPORTS with audiences increasing at the rate of 19% year on year.
�Monday night football will be an extremely exciting opportunity for the code and a great opportunity to further expose the code on a national basis,� Mr Malone said.
�Since 2001 FOX SPORTS has turned Saturday into something super for sports fans at home while promoting the games in a way that has also seen attendances rise.
�In securing the rights until 2012 we are convinced we can generate the same enthusiasm around Monday night from 2007.
�Monday night is a timeslot that has proven a success the world over.�