NRL Rights Deal Set To Be Renegotiated Following Dave Smith’s Departure

Cowboys players celebrate victory in the NRL Grand Final between the Brisbane Broncos and the North Queensland Cowboys at ANZ Stadium in on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

In a further sign that outgoing NRL CEO Dave Smith was pushed and didn’t jump, News Corp is this morning reporting that his removal “breaks the bargaining impasse” for the ongoing rights deal.

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Smith signed a new NRL deal with Channel Nine two months ago leaving News and Foxtel off the negotiating table. This infuriated News Corp who, in turn, have bayed for Smith’s blood  and used its media might to paint Smith as a fool.

It has also been reported that Smith was allegedly looking at live streaming its own games, cutting Foxtel out of any deal altogether. The move reportedly angered Telstra – the NRL’s chief sponsor – who also part-owns the pay TV subscriber.

However, The Australian is reporting this morning that with the “impasse” out of the way then Nine, the NRL and News will most likely strike a new deal and double the $925 million it already has in the bank from Nine.

In the initial agreement, Nine secured four live matches a week – from Thursday through Sunday. Fox, in turn, lost its highly prized live matches on Saturday night and Monday, with the Monday night game being dumped from the schedule altogether.

Most commentators believe Nine paid overs in the deal but it did get the four live matches and the two most lucrative shows on Australian TV – the State of Origin and the NRL grand final.

However, The Oz is now reporting that Nine may be prepared to relinquish its Saturday night game and, in doing so, cut $185 million per year off the rights deal. That would mean the entire deal would need to be renegotiated from scratch and that would ultimately depend on Nine boss David Gyngell agreeing to new terms.