NRL fans big winners in TV deal
DAYS and times of matches in all but the final six rounds of the 2013 NRL premiership will be included when the season-long draw is announced, as early as October this year.
This long-overdue pre-season scheduling of games is the major bonus for fans in the five-year broadcasting agreement announced yesterday between the Australian Rugby League Commission, Channel Nine and Fox Sports.
The agreement is worth more than $1billion and is the biggest in the history of rugby league.
In the words of Commission chairman John Grant, the new package is "a simply fantastic result for rugby league".
"The cash that comes from the agreement, used wisely, will provide the funding base for sustainably growing our game from the grass-roots to the elite levels," Mr Grant predicted. "I think the entire game is entitled to feel proud of what has been achieved. It is a great tribute to the players and the clubs, and what is important now is to maximise the opportunities we have for the future."
The final six rounds of the premiership will be fully scheduled at round 16.
The new agreement includes a cash component of $925m, $90m of which will be paid prior to the start of the 2013 season. Advertising packages to the value of $100m are also included.
Under the agreement Channel Nine will continue to broadcast three weekly matches (two on Friday and one on Sunday), three Thursday evening matches over the course of the year, stand-alone Test and City v Country weekend, Wednesday night State of Origin matches, a night grand final (7.15pm kick-off), annual Roosters-Dragons Anzac Day match, the Queensland In Trust Super Cup, plus two hours of rugby league content each evening on digital Channel 94 plus two hours of content on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Nine will also ensure that all matches are telecast on either the 'primary' or 'digital' station in each state.
Fox Sports will telecast five weekly matches across Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 13 Sunday evening matches (6.30pm) over the course of the year, annual Storm v Warriors Anzac Day game and three non-NRL matches each week played in conjunction with the Telstra Premiership game (which will be shared between Toyota Cup, NSW Cup and GIO Schoolboys Cup).
Nine and Fox Sports will also both provide coverage of annual The Four Nations tournaments.