Nine Entertainment Co, owner of the Nine Network, has announced that it has secured coverage to the National Rugby League (NRL) for the 2018 to 2022 seasons.
There had been earlier speculation in media reports that the Ten Network, which failed in the last round of NRL rights, was again seeking to access NRL.
The deal, worth up to $925 million, gives Nine exclusive free-to-air coverage to NRL matches on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, as well as the Finals series, State Of Origin, and other special event matches.
Nine has also secured free streaming rights, while NRL reserves the right to make available simulcast rights to the pay TV platform — but if this does occur it reduces Nine’s bill.
Press release from Nine:
NINE ACQUIRES NRL RIGHTS
SYDNEY, 10 August 2015: Nine Entertainment Co. (ASX:NEC) has executed an agreement for premium National Rugby League (NRL) rights for the 2018 to 2022 seasons.
Under this agreement, NEC has acquired the exclusive Free-to-Air rights to broadcast 4 premium live games a week on each of Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, as well as the Finals series, State-of-Origin, and other special event matches. NEC has also acquired all free streaming rights for these games. The National Rugby League may elect to grant the pay simulcast rights for certain games, but otherwise the live distribution of these games across any free visual media is exclusive to NEC.
NEC’s average cost over the new rights period amounts to $185m per annum, inclusive of contra, which will be reduced if the NRL elects to grant pay simulcast rights for certain games.
Rugby League fans will enjoy a vastly improved experience – four premium live games each week, more than doubling live coverage to over 270 hours per season, all of which will be available free across Nine’s Free-to-Air television and digital media.
David Gyngell, CEO of NEC, said: “Rugby League is part of Nine’s DNA. This is a transformational outcome for supporters, Rugby League and Nine, enabling viewers to see the best of the NRL, live and free, 4 days per week, anywhere, on any device.
As the audience for television fragments, the value and marketing power of free, live premium sport across multiple media cannot be underestimated.”