Reports NRL rights to spiral to $1.7bn with Ten tipped to pick up a match from Fox Sports

NRLSports rights negotiations have hit the headlines again with one report suggesting the NRL rights could go for $1.7bn and tipping the Nine Network to retain the free-to-air rights for the code.

A detailed report in this morning’s Daily Telegraph claims the value of the rights deal between 2018 and 2022 will leap from the $1bn record sealed in 2012, with every match to be screened live on Fox Sports.

Separately a report in the Australian Financial Review cites unnamed sources suggesting the planned Foxtel tie-up with Network Ten would be detrimental to sport, and could lead to both the NRL and AFL getting just one bid each for their rights.

According to the Daily telegraph report Network Ten could pick up a match from Fox Sports, whilst Nine would have three live games per round. However a planned Thursday night game could see Monday night footy, currently shown on Fox Sports, scrapped to avoid “viewer fatigue”.

While the NRL is known to be looking to sell off the State of Origin rights separately to the main rights the report does not indicate which network is the frontrunner for those matches, which would be a particularly attractive beachhead for Network Seven.

The report states: “All three networks are bidding for it but it is likely to remain with the major free-to-air player, most likely Channel 9.

“Under the new agreement, three games would be played on Saturdays, three on Sundays and one on Thursday and Friday.”

However, the Australian Financial Review cites a source which suggests both codes might only receive one bid each, with joint tenders from Fox Sports and Ten with Nine and Seven as the respective free-to-air partners.

Both Nine and Seven are known to be interested in getting access to both NRL and AFL rights, which help them market other shows in Sydney and Melbourne respectively, which could force a price increase.

Neither report mentions digital rights, currently held by Telstra, which are thought to also be in the sights of rival telco Optus as it looks to expand its media operations.

However, Telstra will be keen to retain the rights with an eye on adding a sports package to its forthcoming Testra TV streaming offering which is set to hit the market in September.  

Sports rights will be one of the key topics of discussion at the Sports Marketing Summit on September 9. For more details click the banner.

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