NRL set to announce Fox Sports deal with dedicated new 24/7 channel

NRLAfter months of controversy in the wake of Nine Network gazumping News Corp and landing the Saturday rights for the NRL, News and Fox Sports will shortly announce they secured a deal with Nine and the NRL to carry the code from 2017/18 for five years in a $1.8bn TV deal.

Announcement of the deal is expected later today, following a week of whirlwind negotiations between the three parties, and will bring to an end a bitter divide between News and the NRL after News secured rights to the AFL along with Seven and Telstra, with Rupert Murdoch dubbing the NRL rival Australia’s “premium code”.

The precise terms of the deal are yet to be announced but it is understood News will pay Nine for games on Saturday and Friday night, as well as replay rights for all fixtures and follow in the footsteps of the AFL with a dedicated 24 hour NRL channel. 

Fox Sports this afternoon tweeted confirmation of the deal before backtracking, deleting the tweet and saying: “Fox Sports expected to launch dedicated 24/7 channel in 2017 and is understood to include exclusive 6pm Friday night game.”

While Murdoch had previously angered NRL executives with his declaration about the AFL, negotiating a deal with Nine and the NRL was crucial for Fox Sports and Foxtel in the NRL heartlands of New South Wales and Queensland.

Aside from Murdoch’s comments on the AFL, the NRL broadcast rights have been mired in controversy after Nine surprised the market and announced it had won the rights.

Critics of the deal claimed that by going early the code had cost itself the chance of securing a deal to rival the AFL’s $2.5bn deal.

Shortly after CEO David Smith resigned and the negotiations were taken over by NRL chairman John Grant.

News Corp upped the ante in the negotiations this week, flying in chief executive Robert Thompson to lead the talks.

Simon Canning and Nic Christensen 




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