The ARU looks set to be big losers out of the latest AFL TV rights deal.
Seven's AFL deal threatens coverage
By James MacSmith
Sunday, January 8, 2006
http://www.rugbyheaven.smh.com.au/news/ ... 78159.html
Under threat: The ARU is worried coverage of Wallabies matches might suffer under Channel Seven's new AFL deal.
Could rugby union turn out to be the big loser from the AFL's lucrative new television rights deal?
With much fanfare networks Seven and Ten announced during the week they had secured the AFL broadcasting rights for 2007-2011, shelling out an incredible $780 million in the process. But Seven also holds the rights to the Wallabies home Tests for the next five seasons after News Ltd on-sold them to the network after negotiating a new five-year deal with SANZAR.
The odds of those internationals being broadcast live nationwide and of Super 14 games getting any time on free-to-air television have lengthened considerably in the wake of the AFL deal. Both ARU chief executive Gary Flowers and Rugby Union Players Association boss Tony Dempsey have expressed their concerns about how rugby will be treated by Seven now that the AFL has emerged as their footballing priority, with Flowers revealing he has been in discussions with Seven head David Leckie in the hope rugby doesn't cop too raw a deal.
"We're confident Seven will continue to support rugby as they have done," Flowers said.
"And there is no reason to think they won't want to maximise their investment in the sport. We plan to do a lot of work with Seven to maximise viewership of the sport. We have a commitment with them and we are looking forward to building on that."
Dempsey, who has called for free-to-air coverage of the Super 14 tournament to be made a priority for rugby this year, said he was fearful of where rugby would find itself in terms of television coverage.
"If Seven have spent all this money on AFL then we know where their priorities lie," he said.
Rugby's most important new market is Western Australia, with the game's newest team, the Western Force, based there. Flowers said fans in WA were unlikely to get anything other than delayed Tests this season. They are also unlikely to get Super 14 on free-to-air.