With the NRL season only finishing up on Sunday, there is already speculation over what the next TV rights deal will look like.
Speaking on the ABC’s Offsiders program over the weekend, sports columnist Roy Masters suggested Network 10 could be planning to steal the rights from rival FTA broadcaster Nine.
“I think that Channel 10 sent a significant message when they didn’t bid for the A-League rights,” he said.
“Channel 10 are owned by American giants CBS. I think that they’re saving up their shekels for a big bid for rugby league and I think they’ll be in competition with Channel Nine for those free to air rights.”
Masters’ comments came as the NRL grand final between the Sydney Roosters and Canberra Raiders pulled just 1.86m viewers according to OzTAM metro numbers, marking the lowest ratings in years.
With Network 10 no longer holding rights to the Big Bash cricket tournament or the AFL, company chief executive Paul Anderson has previously indicated his desire to broadcast rugby league.
“Major sports remain a part of our long term strategy — we have been a significant player in the past and there is no reason why this will change as attractive future rights become available,” Anderson told The Australian last month.
“Network 10 is part of a global media company that has a significant sporting legacy with franchises that are a very important part of their network.”
The Australian added that Network 10 had already contacted some clubs about the potential bid.
The existing NRL deal between Nine and Foxtel, valued at over $2bn, runs until the end of 2022, meaning negotiations for the next deal could begin as early as next year.
Network 10 is currently broadcasting matches from the Rugby World Cup, and also holds rights to the MotoGP, Formula One, Supercars and the Melbourne Cup Carnival.