AAP Rugby

NRL open to extended TV deal: V’landys

By AAP Newswire

The NRL is open to renegotiating an extended television deal for beyond 2022 when it meets with broadcast partners for talks next week.

A day after coming under fire from the Nine Network, ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys confirmed he would meet with Nine and Foxtel next week.

Those talks will largely centre around the preferred structure of the season for both broadcasters, as well as other clashes with events such as the Twenty20 World Cup.

Front and centre will be the financial value of the rest of the season, with Nine arguing games are worth less when played behind closed doors.

The talks come amid a backdrop of challenging times for both sports and television networks.

While free-to-air television ratings are up during the coronavirus shutdown, there are fears advertising revenue could drop by as much as 20 per cent due to retail closures.

Nine also told the stock exchange last week they could save up to $130 million if the NRL was cancelled for 2020.

The developments have prompted sports media experts to recommend sports engage with their broadcast partners for longer, reworked deals.

The AFL, Channel Seven and Foxtel are currently believed to be considering an extension in their deal until the end of 2024.

The value of that deal is expected to be slightly lower, as all parties combat the effects of COVID-19.

V'landys said it was possible a reworked extended deal could also be considered in the NRL.

"If that's part of the scenario we will look at it. We will look at anything," V'landys told AAP.

"These uncertain times have put pressure on everybody. It's put pressure on advertising revenue, so we have to understand all that."

Foxtel are expected to take a hit through the pandemic, with fears subscription numbers will drop on the heels of a tough 2018-19 financial year.

Global Media and Sports boss Colin Smith, who has previously advised both the NRL and AFL, said no sport could afford to take a head-in-the-sand approach.

Instead, he advocated long-term partnerships, with extended deals locked in for as long as a decade.

"I think everywhere people are going to be sitting down saying 'we want to sit at the table with you and renegotiate the rights'," Smith said.

"That's code for: 'The world has changed and we have to renegotiate them downwards'.

"It's going to take a lot of time to recover from where we are today. There is no short-term recovery out of that," Smith said.

Smith also said he expected Nine to want to regain exclusive rights to some games rather than the current simulcast deal with Foxtel.

He added despite Nine's frustration at the NRL on Thursday, there was very little chance they would want to leave the code.

"A free-to-air sports broadcaster without a football league - and in this country that means AFL or NRL - goes backwards enormously," Smith said.

Retaining lucrative television rights deal were already expected to be a challenge for sporting organisations, even before the coronavirus spread.

Most American broadcast deals run for well in excess of five years, while the International Olympic Committee signed an 18-year deal with NBC in 2014.

"That's where I can see the end game," Smith said.

"I would suggest these contracts will probably go until 2030 or something like that."