Do 104 hours of televised NRL come free?
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There was an inexplicable comment made by John Grant during Tuesday’s media conference, at which the NRL announced they had signed a new television deal worth in excess of $1 billion.
“The proof of this deal is there’s not a lot of value placed on that ninth game,” Grant said, to which David Gyngell nodded his head in agreement.
2015 and 2016 have been the two years touted as when the competition was most likely to expand. Conservatively, let’s say it was going to happen in 2016.
That would mean an extra game every round for two seasons – equating in 52 extra games over two years, assuming two extra teams doesn’t affect the current finals system of eight sides.
With most games able to be stretched out to take up two hours when televised, that’s 104 hours of television – presumably on a Saturday or Sunday evening.
I don’t know what that equates to in terms of dollars and cents for the NRL. But to say “there’s not a lot of value” in 104 hours of televised content doesn’t sound right, especially with mobile content yet to be settled, meaning 104 more hours of content in those negotiations as well.
While David Gyngell nodded along in agreement to John Grant’s assessment, he had just parted with around half a billion dollars. He was hardly about to lean in to his mic and say, “actually, you probably could have got another couple of hundred mil’ out of this deal if you’d guaranteed another game every round.”
So where did Grant’s assessment come from?
Is it possible he simply saw that, compared to the AFL and their $1.25 billion deal, his deal was already better? Though, the AFL are getting more in dollars and cents, with shorter games and less games per round, pound-for-pound, the NRL’s is a better deal.
But with an extra 104 hours to negotiate with, it’s hard to see how the deal couldn’t have been better still.
Particularly when one considers the two new NRL franchises are likely to go to Perth and Queensland. Perth opens up a whole new timezone in which to televise a local team and, given Channel Nine’s love affair with broadcasting Broncos games on a Friday night, an extra Queensland team – probably based in Brisbane – was hardly going to be a dud in the ratings.
Then there’s the long-term vision associated with having these extra teams. The advantages of having a national footprint may not be apparent immediately, and perhaps John Grant’s assessment that the two extra teams were not going to provide a great deal of value at this deal was correct.
However when 2017 rolls around, two extra teams, relatively settled and attracting good crowds and ratings, are hardly going to see the next TV deal suffer.
David Gyngell caused a stir a while ago, saying if the NRL wanted to make more money they needed to provide more opportunities for advertising – his suggestion was by creating more breaks in the game.
But if Mr Gyngell wants more opportunities for advertising, there are 104 hours which are going to go begging over the back end of this TV deal.