Nine seals NRL rights until 2022


Nine has secured Free to Air NRL broadcast rights for the 2018 to 2022 seasons at a cost of $185m per year, including contra.

Nine has confirmed exclusive Free-to-Air rights to broadcast 4 premium live games a week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, as well as the Finals series, State of Origin and other special event matches.

The deal includes all free streaming rights for these games and more than doubles live coverage to over 270 hours per season.

The $185m fee will be reduced if the NRL announces pay simulcast rights for certain games.

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.”

Other changes see NRL played over 25 instead of 26 rounds, the second match of State of Origin played on Sundays, and international rugby to be played after NRL season.

NRL CEO Dave Smith said the NRL would regain control of the season schedule.

“We will be able to schedule the best games when fans want to see them – and ensure all clubs receive the coverage they deserve on free to air television,” he said.

Negotiations with other platforms is continuing.

“By 2018, the digital world will be very different and we want to be in the best possible position to take advantage of any changes,” he said.

“So negotiations with the pay tv and digital providers will continue and, again, our focus will be on ensuring the most widespread coverage on whatever platform fans choose to watch rugby league.”

This post updates.


  1. “It is estimated that Nine’s annual advertising take for the NRL is about $65m-$75m, which means it is already incurring a loss of about $15m annually on the current deal.” – The Australian.

    TV advertising isn’t rising… best case if it remains the same Nine is set to loose $110 million a year on NRL – before production costs! That isn’t sustainable.

    Nine needs Fox Sports to come in and pay overs for all games Live, but why would FOX pay overs for that plus 4 dud exclusive games?

    I think Nine and the NRL may have shot themselves in the foot! Like it or not, Pay TV needs to be involved in the game if they want that sort of money.

    There are still 4 exclusive games a round for sale… I can’t see Fox being happy to pick up the scraps.

  2. oceanographer

    Finally a Saturday night game on free-to-air! Channel Nine finally worked out that live sport is the only thing that rates on Saturday Night. No more big blocks of reality show encores taking up that whole night.

  3. incredible deal by NRL, got all games live, a fourth FTA game for Saturday nights, origin schedule tidied up with game 2 on Sunday night, got rid of unpopular Monday nights, full control over the schedule back from TV, option for simulcasting and all while doubling the rights! Nine must have been very concerned about letting it go to tender with f&l rights gone. They would have to be pushing $2 billion once Foxtel, Sky NZ, Telstra & International rights are sealed.

    With Fox losing mondays & exclusivity over one game they would be very keen to get simulcasting to hold onto subscribers and with the NRL knowing it will cost them some contra from 9 they can tell foxtel exactly what they require them to pay to ensure the NRL don’t take a significant hit on FTA contra. Well played, David Smith!

  4. They should do what the afl does and show local teams play in their local market all storm games show on nine in vic all raiders games shown on 9 in Canberra etc

  5. Armchair Analyst

    I expect Nine to on sell at least 1 maybe 2 of the games they have acquired to Pay Tv or TEN. I was surprised to here that they have secured the online streaming rights to their games which will somewhat thwart Telstra and Foxtel. However I think the deal will be similar to what we have now, because Nine payed or overpayed for the FTA rights they will onsell most of it to FOXtel. So my prediction is that the new deal will be something like what the AFL has with 7 and NewsCorp. Nine wanted to fend off 7 and 10.

  6. I wonder if the streaming rights will equal Stan having those, be a nice little incentive for some people to sign up to Stan. If they’re replay streaming rights as well, can imagine people going to a game and watching after they get home, especially if they are up permanently or at the least for a few weeks.

  7. Very disappointing to hear. For NRL fans its great FTA will have Saturday night games but Nine winning the rights just shows the NRL doesn’t see what the viewer does in the product Nine is dishing out. All this talk of State of Origin on a different network to make it an even bigger standout didn’t materialise. I think it was all talk and no action yet again. TEN i would assume would be very disappointed. The streaming option is an interesting idea though.

  8. I’m an AFL supporter but the NRL Commission should be rightly proud of the deal they have put together. League supporters unable to afford or unwilling to subscribe to Fox now get 4 games live – a big tick – and the move to have the second Origin game played on the Sunday night is a winner for the players and the comp not losing access to its star players. I take the point of others in wondering what will air in non-League states during the games.

  9. Very disappointing. Nine have had the NRL for far too long and as a result their broadcasting is lacking as they haven’t changed it in years. Not to mention TEN were far more deserving in my books. But ultimately I really hope FOX Sports pull off the AFL-like deal where they get every game live so I never have to watch NRL on Nine again. The sooner I can stop hearing Ray Warren and Phil Gould (if I am wrong and it isn’t Phil Gould can someone please correct me) stop bickering during every game the better.

  10. Free streaming option is interesting. Though if my very poor experience watching 9s soccer broadcast through jumpin is anything to go by 9 needs to put some serious work in to improve their streaming ability through jumpin. It would be great if this deal set a precedence and allowed a free streaming option in the next AFL broadcast deal.

  11. If Fox Sports can negotiate a deal to broadcast all 8 games (or 9 games if new expansion teams are admitted into the NRL competition in coming years) this would at least guarantee that all matches could be seen Live in all areas of Australia, including South Australia and Broken Hill in NSW where the Friday night matches are still broadcast on anywhere from 3-6 hours delay after 10:30PM onwards. This would possibly force Nine to consider showing the Friday night games live in the non traditional Rugby League areas of our nation like Seven do for the AFL in NSW/ACT/QLD via the 7mate channel, so they don`t lose as many viewers to Fox Sports/Fox Footy.

  12. its a shame TEN missed out on one game, you know share the love and all…. and yes David is 100% spot on Live TV and event TV will be the basis for FTA moving forward.

  13. Wow!! A 100% increase on the last rights deal that Nine paid for NRL. Just goes to show how desperate FTA networks are for live tv. Hope their bank balance can sustain the cost. Gyngell would have a smile from ear to ear. Shareholders in NIne would be crossing their fingers it all goes well.

  14. I wonder what the logic is for Nine in showing live games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It now means Nine will have state based programming on its main channel four nights a week (assuming the NRL Footy show screens on Wednesday, as it does now for Thursday games). Either NRL state viewers are going to miss out on some first run content, or non NRL state viewers are going to have three nights of endless repeats of movies.

    • I’d assume afl states would still have the footy show on Thursday nights accept for Thursday night games and the afl only had 4 of those this year. As nine’s programming these days is reality, movie reruns and random overseas factuals with drama mia on that network I don’t think much will change with this deal unfortunately.

    • The NRL has for some time wanted more games live on main channels FTA in the Northern States, and secondary channels elsewhere, to compete with AFL for popularity and keep Rugby and Soccer in their places.

      With other content’s ratings declining Nine has been forced to accept a Thursday night game and showing the Sunday game live instead of on delay.

      The showing of Nine’s games live on Fox Sports as well is up to the NRL, (which has reserved that right). Nine has just ensured they won’t pay much if the NRL does that. Nine is mostly interested in the Friday Night and Sunday games and as long as they are exclusive Nine will do well from the deal. They have taken the free streaming rights to stop Foxtel, Telstra, Google or Netflix attacking them from that flank. Subscription streaming will compete more against Fox Sports than FTA.

  15. Once again the light at the end of the tunnel for Ten has been extinguished .. I really had hoped they would get at least one game. I can’t see any reason for nine to go for simulcast on fox sports unless it’s cost reduction .. Or perhaps they can justify not showing in non league States

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