NRL tackles content weak spot

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 6 June 2018
Former players Dene Halatau and Jamie Soward join the weekly NRL Team List panel program.

The NRL is adopting a bespoke content model as part of its new digital strategy, but will avoid encroaching on the Fox Sports and Nine panel show space.

Speaking to AdNews, NRL chief digital officer Rebekah Horne says research conducted by the rugby league organisation indicated the content missing from the supply chain was around analytics.

She says while the game's broadcast partners provide valuable insights into the game, there is an opportunity for a less opinion-based offering.

"We've taken a slightly different approach, we're just talking about the football," Horne says.

"Our chief commercial officer, Andrew Abdo, and his marketing team are doing a big brand refresh project based on research we got back revealed that fans wanted this."

NRL GM commercial and digital strategy, Todd Hewitt, says there must also be a clear delineation between the content the NRL creates and what already exists with its broadcast partners.

He says the organisation will leave the opinion-based work to Nine and Fox, as it focuses its attention to "actual analysis".

"I point to an example where a journalist sat down with a player and looked at and analysed the way that he was playing the game. That's very much about football. Whereas on 360, Paul Kent, Buzz Rothsfield - they will be giving opinions," Hewitt explains.

"It's always important to understand that we're going to have a different way of presenting the game to them. And so, as an ecosystem, as a whole, we're appealing to the broader fan-base as opposed to all just focusing in on one area of the game."

Hewitt says the NRL will also continue to focus its attention on the spirit of the game, pointing to its recent TV ad for the 2018 season launch, and leave the broadcasters to do what they do best, "promoting the action".

As part of its new commercial content strategy, the organisation has begun to create its own panel shows, which cover areas of the game such as weekly team lists and injury updates.

The shows vary in length, but can reach up to 25 minutes and Hewitt says as they continue to grow in popularity and viewership, commercial opportunities outside of simply sponsorship deals will come into play.

"We're looking at some pre-roll and mid-roll around that, but we'll never have the same the level of integration as a broadcast would," he says.

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