5 ways the NRL TV deal missed the mark

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August 23, 2012 by dixwah

The rhetoric from Fox Studios has been emphatic – we reached the magic number and have brokered a deal that ensures the financial security of our struggling Sydney clubs.

But in compromising with Channel 9 and Foxtel, the NRL prioritised funds over fans.

Here’s five ways the NRL dropped the ball:

  • Delayed telecasts – By allowing Channel 9 to continue showing two of their three weekly games on delayed telecast, fans have been kept in the dark ages. Sure they want the Broncos/Qld game up there, and the 4pm game runs nicely into the lucrative Sunday news slot. We get that. So show the 4pm game live, and throw the alternate state’s Friday night broadcast on Gem (or even Fox). It’s easy. Done.
  • The 5 year deal – The recent Olympics coverage was proof that inflexible contracts signed years in advance don’t work in the current climate. In their 2007 deal with Foxtel, Channel 9 locked themselves into a single-channel hosting of London 2012, and were caught with egg on their face when their secondary digital channel was left idle. Who knows what technological advances will have taken place between now and 2018? The long-term plan may have got the suits the dollars they wanted, but could make the game’s coverage sadly outdated by the time the next deal is on the table.
  • The AFL’s comparative advantage –  The lack of digital options and live coverage (or even live coverage on your digital media) means that if i want to watch live sport on Sunday afternoon, on free-to-air, or even my iPad, there’s only one major sporting code in Australia I’ll be watching. Considering Phil Gould’s continued bashing on the AFL’s ‘assualt’ on western Sydney, his opinion as a Channel 9 expert would be particularly interesting. No no no no no!
  • Digital assets –  It’s very difficult within the modern climate to understand the value of digital rights. Is it booming, and if so, does that negate the value of TV rights? But the iffy-whiffy digital deal with Foxtel reeked of a team that showed a lack of foresight for a digital future. By allowing Foxtel digital rights and on-selling part of them (I think), has Shane Mattiske cost the NRL money by not considering the value of this medium?
  • Brisbane’s Friday night monopoly – The talk from the NRL is that the money in this deal will secure the future of the current clubs for the next five years. With Channel 9 again controlling the schedule and the likelihood of Brisbane domination in free-to-air coverage north of the border, I don’t expect it will be long before execs from Canberra and Cronulla again cry poor about the unfair advantage in sponsorship revenue the Broncos enjoy.

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