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.