Nine reports "strongest" start to an NRL season

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 23 March 2016
Nine has reported strong revenue at the start of the NRL season.

Nine has reported the strongest start to an NRL season in revenue terms, adding new major sponsors and growing the number of advertising packages it sells.

This year, insurance firm Cbus, the Shaver Shop and Ashley Martin (for Sunday broadcasts) have joined the seven major sponsors from last season – Telstra, Holden, KFC, Harvey Norman CUB, Sportsbet and Bunnings.

Adding cream to a solid sponsorship revenue base has been unprecedented interest in advertisers that have taken out season long packages.

Nine Network sports sales director Sam Brennan tells AdNews it's been the strongest start to an NRL season the free-to-air broadcaster has ever had, despite more competition from Fox Sports, which has beefed up it's coverage to show every game.

“We haven't seen [any impacts of Fox Sports competition] yet, it's been our strongest start to a season. I think we are running our race and doing a good job of it,” he says.

“Marks has definitely exceeded our expectations from a revenue point of view, and we're finding advertisers are far more prepared to lay down their session at the start of the season. We've had half a dozen major packages that are not too far off what a sponsor would usually spend.”

Brennan says he expected some advertisers to wait and see how simulcasting league coverage against Fox Sports would affect ratings, but so far the audience figures have been strong.

Sunday's game between the St George Dragons and South Sydney Rabbitohs drew an average audience of 514,000 despite competing directly with the Australian F1 Grand Prix. Friday night footy delivered an average audience of 782,000 and Thursday's game drew 676,000.

And the extra coverage on Thursday and Friday night has helped Nine get off to such a strong start.

“What those pre and post games allows us to do is commercialise great content we've created in partnership with our clients. Branded content, you might call it that is relevant to rugby league and rugby league audiences,” Brennan adds.

This season, there will be a few new camera enhancements and Nine will introduce around State of Origin. These include 3D rendered imagery, which will have a commercial partner.

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