The bright side of the TV deal
Adam Blair in action during the NRL round 24, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Wests Tigers (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Robb Cox)
A lot has been written about the fans being forgotten in the new deal but I thought hey, it’s the weekend, let’s go all Bobby McFerrin and be happy!
From the new deal, here’s what we should be thankful for.
The guys at the ARLC finally shot dead those first and last rights. That was the puppy which got AFL a huge deal years ago but it is a kind of boom or bust clause that I don’t think we need to gamble on. Good management with freedom is better than one big money roll of the dice on the felt for me.
Then you’ve got the schedule, the bone for the fans is that they get to be able to tell when their team is playing 20 weeks in advance. I’m not sure, given the TV networks will probably have some input into this, that it’s a terribly different outcome but it seems like something the majority wanted and they seem to have got it for little trade off.
Then the big part. The cash.
A one billion dollar price tag means we can legitimately measure our metaphorical members with the masters of the AFL. Yes they got more, but their game goes for longer and have more breaks suitable for advertising.
It also excludes the digital rights, which is going to become a larger part of the sports value proposition in the future. A shrewd move
The clubs, after feeling slighted on the last deal, are going to be the best looked after. I think the NRL giving the clubs a grant that covers the cap is a fair and equitable manner to run the game. At that point, a 50% outcome gives the players a AU$6.25m cap. This means if we want to keep players, we should be able to unless stupid amounts come from another code.
It also leaves the game with 100 million a year to improve the administration, expand and look after the ‘grass roots’, which is actually what delivers the billion dollar audience they just sold to Nine and Fox.
If original reports are wrong on the division of the cash then the ARLC has the capacity to look after all aspects of the game. Personally, I’d like to see a well-structured grants programme down to the local club level. Playing rugby league makes you a fan of rugby league, let’s make it as easy as possible for people to get their kids into the game.
Imagine local clubs that didn’t have to fret every June about the finances and could keep memberships affordable.
I can hear the ‘user pay’ guys already warming up their typing fingers but remember, fans are the product that the NRL sells to sponsors and TV networks. Coal doesn’t pay to be dug out of the ground, veggies don’t pay to be harvested and kids shouldn’t have to pay to become NRL fans.
Even if, and please don’t pile on to me for this brief sojourn into the negative, the Commission does ignore the game outside of the NRL for this round of the contract, the size of it and the exclusion from the first and last rights means that next deal they can focus on delivering more to other stakeholders in the game.