Origin, finals may be split for TV cash auction
The ARL Commission will consider selling the regular season, finals games, the grand final, and the State of Origin series as separate entities as the code looks to squeeze every cent it can from the next broadcasting deal.
It is understood separation of the game’s major products has been contemplated as part of a discussion paper distributed to club bosses late last week.
As revealed in The Australian this week, the paper also contemplated an early approach to the game’s current and potential broadcast partners as they look to get a jump on the AFL and provide some clarity to clubs over their future in the competition.
The commission and NRL have bundled together their major products as part of recent broadcasting deals but are expected to investigate whether separating them would create more tension in the market and allow them to grow their broadcasting revenue as a result.
The game’s current broadcasting deals with the Nine Network and Foxtel run until the end of 2022 but officials are weighing up whether to begin discussions as early as next year over a new deal. The commission and NRL yesterday outlined their plans to the clubs and while there is no certainty they will kick off talks next year, they want to be in position to open discussions should the opportunity arise or the situation demand it.
That stance yesterday received the imprimatur of media rights expert Colin Smith, managing director of Global Media and Sports. Smith previously worked with the NRL on broadcasting deals and suggested the game would be wise to have its ducks in a row and at least be prepared to begin talks with key stakeholders.
“Protecting your revenues is critical so testing the market, they should contemplate,” Smith said.
“They got a huge number (last time). Ultimately it was a really good deal for the NRL, no question about that. I would think it is really critical that the NRL is right on top of this and ready to move, and also testing the market, and therefore ready to roll over early if it necessary.
“Because the threat will be that in the next round of rights either there will be a minimal increase or it could reduce. There is no alternative bidder out there in the foreseeable future that would bid what Foxtel pays for the NRL.
“If you and I were talking about the AFL I would be giving the same answers — and probably even more so because in the AFL case it is nearly $2.6 billion between Channel 7 and Foxtel.
“Just to highlight what I am saying, in the English Premier League in their domestic rights that were signed late last year, they dropped by 13 per cent.
“Therefore if I was the NRL, I would be out there testing this and if I could do a deal that could make me whole or give me a slight increase, I would do it sooner rather than later.”
State of Origin is widely regarded as the jewel in the rugby league crown and its value to broadcasters has been placed at upwards of $100 million a year. However, it has been bundled up in recent deals, leaving the value untested on the open market.
That could change if the ARL Commission and NRL believe they can get more money from the broadcasters by selling it separately — Origin would be a cash cow for all the commercial networks.
“That is what the NFL (in America) does and does really well,” Smith said of splitting the broadcasting products.
“I have always argued State of Origin is something really unique. There is nothing like it. The question is will the sum of the parts be greater than the sum of the whole?
“What you will find is you will get a huge price for State of Origin, you will get a huge price for the finals, but what does that mean for home-and-away.
“And what does that mean for other content like internationals, which is still a work in progress. If I was them I would be doing a bucketload of work on another team in Brisbane.”
The broadcasters are likely to have a massive say in the size and shape of the competition; chief executive Todd Greenberg is currently conducting a review of the game’s footprint. Expansion and relocation are at the heart of that review and Greenberg’s work is expected to ultimately determine whether the game looks to immediately place a team in Brisbane or waits until one of the current clubs fall over.
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/ ... 8ed1a8392f