Nine has confirmed variations to its NRL broadcast rights for the 2016 to 2022 seasons.
For the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Nine has agreed to permit FOX Sports to simulcast matches (other than the State of Origin and the Grand Final), in return for a payment of $20 million per annum.
Nine and FOX Sports have also agreed with the Australian Rugby League Commission to move the delayed Friday night game to a Live Thursday night slot (for 18 weeks in 2016 and 23 weeks in 2017).
For the 2018 to 2022 seasons, FOX Sports will simulcast Nine’s matches (other than the State of Origin and the Grand Final) and the Saturday night match will then be licensed to FOX Sports. Nine will also broadcast the last 5 Saturday matches from 2017.
The variations mean Nine has more matches Live, from approximately 150 hours in 2015 to approximately 240 hours from 2018.
The agreement with Foxtel means Nine’s average cost over the 2018 to 2022 rights period will now be $125 million per annum, inclusive of contra, down from the previously announced $185 million per annum.
Hugh Marks, CEO of NEC, said “This is an outstanding result for the game with more live and free coverage for NRL fans from 2016. For Nine, it clearly represents an enhanced outcome for our shareholders and enables us to participate in a strong media partnership delivering quality NRL coverage for the game, the clubs and the broader NRL community for the next 7 years.”
Foxtel Chief Executive, Richard Freudenstein, said, “I’d like to congratulate News Corporation, Telstra, FOX Sports, Nine and the NRL for having reached an agreement that will ensure the best possible coverage of rugby league for its fans.”