Nine may surrender Saturday NRL game


Speculation today that Nine may surrender its Saturday evening NRL game it acquired in its recent NRL deal, amid an impasse in league negotiations.

The Australian reports the NRL was hoping to sell the 2018-22 rights for $1.7 billion, with more than $700m for the Pay TV rights.

But while FOX Sports is yet to agree to a deal insiders claim it is refusing the asking price unless the Saturday match is put back on the table.

This week Dave Smith resigned as NRL CEO after what has been described as a mishandling of TV rights and alienating key individuals.

“If (Nine CEO) David Gyngell wants to release that game he can reduce his $185m (in annual payments). It’s a negotiation and the ball is in the NRL’s court,” an insider said.

In August Nine secured 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 games, doubling Live coverage to over 270 hours per season.

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


  1. This is a negotiating tactic by Foxsports, backed up by News Corps media, but is a real issue. The AFL managed to reach a combined deal that keeps Seven, Fox Sports and fans happy.

    Nine only really wants the Friday night and Sunday night games. It’s the NRL who want the Thursday and Sunday games to compete with the AFL. And to get them they allowed Nine a very sweet deal for FTA, and streaming and reduces their cost if Fox Sports shows the games they don’t really want. By selling the Pay TV rights separately afterwards they have allowed Foxsports to lock in AFL rights and then play chicken trying to drive the price of NRL games for Pay TV down.

    But the NRL needs money from Fox Sports and Fox Sports needs NRL games to hold subscribers in NSW and QLD, so they we sort it out.

  2. We had known this for ages now. On the Saturday after the FTA deal was announced, it was reported that Nine was going to talk to Ten about offloading the Saturday night game

  3. Hope they don’t. Free-To-Air Saturday night NRL has never been on TV. Don’t get rid of it. If you get rid of a game dump the Thursday Night Game.

  4. This speculation is all from News Ltd newspapers. The majority League viewers actually love having four game live on free-to-air. The Telegraph every since this deal was announced has cried and whinged that their beloved TV partner Foxsports is missing out on exclusive primetime NRL. Why would Nine give up an NRL game that rates in high figures and instead be content with low rating reality show encores. This all just more hype up News Ltd propoganda.

  5. The most interesting aspect of this story is that there is no denying that News still holds considerable power of the Australian media scape. No wonder NEC feared a Fox JV with TEN

  6. Being this news is sourced from the Murdoch press, it can only be viewed as purely speculative hype by them trying to set the agenda and nothing more.

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