Talk of NRL expansion appears to be just that and a sellout State of Origin game in Perth is unlikely to change that. Unlike the AFL, how would the NRL fund expansion and ongoing support for a club in non-heartland when every current NRL club bar one runs at a financial loss now?
Interesting times head for all sports no doubt.
NRL swimming against the stream when it comes to TV rights, expansion
By Neil Breen
March 23, 2019
Netflix and Stan will decide the fate of Sydney’s nine NRL clubs in any move towards expansion.
The streaming services have nothing to do with rugby league but, ultimately, the money secured in the next TV rights deal will guide the game. And with consumer money pouring into streaming, there might not be a big pot left for league.
This situation will influence every decision about the game, including expansion and/or relocation.
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Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie and NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg have declared expansion and the game’s footprint to be at the top of the agenda.
It’s not. Topping the list is what TV money can be secured beyond 2022. Everything falls in line behind it.
That’s where Netflix and Stan come in.
The existing five-year NRL broadcast deal is in its second season and is worth $1.8 billion with Channel Nine and Fox Sports sharing the load across free-to-air and pay TV. The cash component is in excess of $300 million a season.
But free-to-air and pay TV are under siege from streaming platforms. Television executives are concerned by the trend. Viewers are making their own choices. It’s not going to slow down.
Yes, league rates, but if the networks don’t have the cash to keep paying more for it, they won’t. They can’t.
Foxtel is trying to get ahead of the trend by offering sport on streaming service Kayo – at between $25 and $35 a month, which is far less than you pay for access to Fox Sports.
How this will affect overall revenue at Foxtel in the next five to seven years is unknown. But less is less.
All of this adds up to the strong possibility that the next five-year NRL rights deal from 2023-2027 may be worth LESS than $1.8 billion.
Which would be disastrous. Clubs would receive lower annual grants, player payments would stagnate. The game would stagnate.
The ARLC is acutely aware of this; acutely aware operating budgets may fall.
In all the expansion and relocation debate, there really is only one certainty: there will be a second Brisbane team. It's a no-brainer and the powers that be know it.
The growing talk about Perth is just that, talk.
The NRL winces at how much money the AFL has pumped into the GWS Giants and Gold Coast Suns: $100 million each. And rising. The prospect of less, or even the same, TV money will end the hopes of any Perth NRL team. Getting excited about a packed house for a one-off Origin match in a new AFL/cricket stadium will get us nowhere.
How will it look when Perth play the Titans on a Saturday afternoon?
The game most likely will not have the luxury of matching the AFL and pump $100 million into a team in a non-heartland state.
Phil Gould this week spoke about 20 teams in two conferences. In a perfect world, this would be the future. But are there enough good players for that? Is there anywhere near enough cash around for that? Sadly, no.
Money will drive all decisions and the uncomfortable truth for fans is the Sharks and Manly are the two clubs most vulnerable to relocation as a possible second Brisbane team. To a lesser extent, Wests Tigers. Financial viability, or the lack thereof, will be the only factor that results in a club being moved.
There is zero appetite among the ARLC to forcibly move a club. Memories of the South Sydney protest in 2000 burn bright. The last thing the game needs is fans marching down George Street.
The Sharks and Manly have teetered on the edge of financial disaster seemingly forever.
They continually rely on 11th-hour saves from benefactors and, in the case of the Sharks, promises of developer money for apartments and shops on adjacent land. A story/promise that goes around and around …
Manly have the Penn family, but how deep is their commitment? They don’t want to pump big money into the Sea Eagles, but can’t part with the club either.
Wests Tigers looked dreadfully shaky a few years ago when the NRL propped them up. Under former chair Marina Go, the club righted itself. The Balmain side is on life support, but the Wests side is strong. Money from the powerful Wests Ashfield club helps.
Greenberg has put himself under pressure, declaring he has this season to put together a concrete plan.
There won’t be one by the end of the season because uncertainty about TV revenue will remain.
https://www.smh.com.au/sport/nrl/nrl-sw ... 516db.html