Nine will meet with Foxtel to discuss a potential renegotiation of the existing NRL broadcast deal, as the code prepares for an ambitious May 28 relaunch date.
As the deal stands now, Fox Sports has access to all eight games of the round, with Nine broadcasting Thursday and Friday night fixtures, as well as one game on Sunday.
This means certain games appear live and exclusive on Fox Sports.
But with News Corp having yesterday flagged “a material adverse impact on the Company’s business” from COVID-19, as well as a loss in Foxtel and Kayo subscriber, Nine is looking to strike.
The Sydney Morning Herald is today reporting Nine will “adopt a less-is-more approach, hoping for more exclusive and in-demand content”.
Nine journalist Danny Weidler also suggested the network is looking to secure more exclusive NRL content to boost ratings.
It comes following news Nine Network CEO Hugh Marks met with ARLC chairman Peter V’landys to discuss the potential May 28 return.
“Today, Nine CEO Hugh Marks and I had a constructive and co-operative meeting about rugby league in 2020 and beyond,” V’landys told the Herald.
“I am buoyed by Mr Marks’ support of rugby league and his commitment to the game. The meeting provided us with the opportunity to outline our positions and discuss next steps to navigate this crisis.
“We are both focused on the long-term success of the game and, while there is more work to do, I am optimistic we will find a way through this together. Our next meeting, where we will endeavour to construct a road map for the game this year, must include Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany.”
It is understood that Nine is hesitant to commit to the May return date, while the NRL is desperate to get the competition restarted.
With the existing $1.8 billion broadcast deal set to expire in 2022, discussions around renegotiating this year’s broadcast will invariably lead to the next broadcast deal.
Last Thursday, a Nine spokesperson accused the NRL of “mismanaging the game for years”.
“In the past the NRL have had problems and we’ve bailed them out many times including a $50m loan to support clubs when the last contract was signed,” the spokesperson said.
“It would now appear that much of that has been squandered by a bloated head office completely ignoring the needs of the clubs, players and supporters.”
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