NRL boss Dave Smith may have been slammed for his recent rights negotiations that saw Channel Nine get the bulk of the games and News/Foxtel overlooked.
However, a new report shows that Smith may have the last laugh. Following on from the NRL grand final scoring 500,000 more viewers than its AFL counterpart (4.4 million versus 3.9 million) new modeling has found the introduction of a seventeenth NRL team – in Brisbane – would add $200,000 to any rights deal.
That said, NRL bosses have thus far ruled out expanding the competition or relocating existing teams so long as they are profitable. Another consideration for the NRL is that it would have to significantly prop up any new venture and that needs to be reflected in what it would get back from the club in terms of TV rights.
A number of areas are agitating for a new team including the NSW Central Coast, Perth, Central Queensland, New Zealand and even PNG; however, it’s believed a second Brisbane team would be the frontrunner (although it’s clearly an idea not loved by the Brisbane Broncos who’d be happy to keep the capital city all to itself.)
Some 141,000 New Zealand viewers also tuned into this year’s NRL grand final (a figure not added into Australian TV ratings) and any rights deal could be much and more valuable with the addition of a second Kiwi team.
A conglomerate called the Brisbane Bombers already have a management team in place, although exact details about the club are unclear. It’s the Bombers who are claiming that it would add $200 million to the broadcast rights.
Speaking in the Fairfax Meda, the Bomber’s bid team chairman, Greg Davidson, said: “(Nine boss) David Gyngell has confirmed not in dollar figures but certainly that he sees a lot of value in a second Brisbane team and I have got absolute confidence in the NRL that they will make a decision based on commercial common sense.
“They won’t be scared to put a second team in Brisbane and we have got our business plan done and our model done to the point that if they come out with a tender we will be ready to put up a team.”
Any new NRL team would be very attractive to Foxtel who is still smarting after rival Nine paid close to a $1 billion to snare four live games a week for a new rights deal starting in 2018.
News Corp (that part owns Foxtel) was allegedly furious that the pay TV provider had been largely ignored in the deal and then surprised everybody by securing the AFL rights for $2.5 billion.
However, with just the $1 billion from the Nine deal there’s uncertainly about how the NRL will make up the other $1 billion it wants from networks.
Foxtel will most likely come to the table eventually and an extra team and extra games would be a valuable bargaining chip in any negotiations for the NRL.