Yesterday’s $1.025 billion NRL TV rights deal represents a seismic shift in the battle for football code supremacy. For all the AFL development officers converting the heathens in Western Sydney, rugby league is still officially the dominant code in two of Australia’s three most populous states.
Channel Nine must now totally revamp its TV coverage to ensure it does its bit to keep the game popular.
There was a solid blowup yesterday by Nine boss David Gyngell over complaints that Nine will delay telecasts of some of its three weekly games under the new deal, as it does now. That was a sideshow, and Gyngell was right to defend his commercial turf. But that doesn’t mean Nine can sit back and change nothing. In fact, they pretty much need to change everything.
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It’ll be Moet & Chandon all round at AFL House tonight. In a deal which consolidates its position as Australia’s premier winter sporting code, the AFL has just announced a $1.253 billion dollar TV rights deal from 2012 to 2016. It’s far and away the largest sport rights deal in Australian history.
The five year deal will see Channel Seven televise four games per week. Seven will also retain exclusive rights to the AFL grand final, and pre-season Cup grand final, while Fox Sports will screen all eight weekly games live, including the games shown on Seven.
This is a major return to AFL for the pay TV broadcaster, which has also grabbed the high-rating Brownlow medal night coverage from Seven. Fox will also revive a dedicated AFL channel. Its last such channel, the Fox Footy Channel, turned its toes up after the 2006 grand final.
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