Is five years too long for the NRL internet rights?
After watching a presentation of how the UFC is delivered via Xbox in the USA I got to thinking about how much the media landscape has changed in the last five years and how much it will change in the future.
Currently in the USA you can watch all UFC main events on a PPV basis live via your xbox 360 without needing cable or any other form of pay tv, just an internet connection.
Once you have ordered the fight you can view the fight card, fighter stats and previous match ups as well as make a prediction on who will win which fight in which round.
You can then view your friends predictions and also see which of your friends are watching the fight, even chat live to them while you are watching the fights, even if they are on the other side of the world. Then, once the fight is over you can post your prediction results on Facebook.
I thought, how could this work for the NRL?
It’s a Friday night, I’m getting home from work late, but thats okay because I’ve already told my xbox that I want to watch the Broncos destroy the Storm, so the game will be available whenever I’m ready to watch it.
I walk in the door and the wife is standing their in my Broncos Jersey with the xbox controller in one hand and a nice cold brew in the other.
Luckily, I’ve made it home in time to watch the game live.
I select the NRL dashboard which has a few obligatory ads linked directly to advertiser websites around the edges. I decide to hold off on looking at the ab-master until after the game because I want to check the team lists. There has been one change for the storm, something about Slater’s knee, so I click on Billy’s name to see his stats for the last few games against the Broncos.
I then select “compare player” and the Broncos team list comes up. After comparing a few players with Slater and checking out a few other players, it’s time for Kick off.
The game starts and I decide I’d better double check my tips for the game. I say “xbox-NRL tips” and a small screen pops up with my predictions compared to the rest of the world. 94% select Broncos for the win.
I can also see that my mate in Dubai is watching the game and has tipped the Broncos to win by 12 so I send him a ‘chat invite’. He accepts and the pop-up window changes to a live video chat.
This is just a small sample of what can be achieved with a little hard work and foresight on behalf of the NRL. Current technology is able to do all these things and more and with the NBN coming soon the possibilities are almost limitless.
The NRL could easily retain the internet rights and get a few programmers together to set this up.
The payment for watching the games could be split up, however the customer wants: one game, one team or a full-season pass which would include access to classic games of the past.
It also allows the viewer to watch the game from anywhere in the world and for the NRL to know who is watching the game and where, thus being able to provide targeted advertising.
In light of the possibilities and the rapidly changing technologies I don’t think the NRL should commit to a long term internet rights deal unless they are willing to really push the product and take advantage of the opportunities that are there.