NRL 'may as well be taking cocaine' if looking for higher bid

By By David Blight | 20 August 2012

Amid speculative reports of a $1.1 billion bid from Nine and Foxtel for rugby league broadcast rights, media analyst Steve Allen has said the ARL Commission “may as well be taking cocaine” if it wants more money.

A report in the Australian Financial Review this morning speculated Foxtel and Nine lodged a $1.1 billion bid for the NRL broadcast rights last Friday (17 August), for a six year period between 2013 and 2018. Meanwhile, the report said other media players Seven West Media and Ten Network also made bids for the business.

It has been widely reported that the National Rugby League has been hoping for a rights deals similar to that of the Australian Football League (AFL), which was given $1.25 billion for a five year period from Seven, Foxtel and Telstra.

However, Fusion Strategy principal Steve Allen said the two deals cannot be compared, because ARL games run for longer and have more opportunity to sell advertising, meaning broadcasters have more opportunities to bring in revenue. He said the NRL should be congratulated if it manages to pull the reported $1.1 billion for six years, and argued the sport will not be able to pull in any more money.

Allen went on to say of the NRL: “I think some people seem to think TV stations don't need to profit. They think that without their sport the TV station is sunk.

“Well, they may as well be taking cocaine. TV networks can no longer bid for something if there is just a slight glimmer of hope they will get a profit. CVC will be watching Nine's bid very closely, as will Ten's stakeoholders.”

Meanwhile, Cox Media principal Peter Cox told AdNews: “I think they are all overpaying anyway. The rights holders are going to struggle to make this money back.

“But sport is one of the only things that rates these days so of course it is going to be competitive.”

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