Nine’s NRL decision a gem in southern states

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    Last December I wrote on The Roar outlining the need for action to counter to the lack of rugby league coverage in the southern states by the Nine Network.

    Given the advances in capacity for broadcasting – via the internet and extra digital TV channels – it seemed incomprehensible that NRL fans should continue to be blacked out in favour of other programming.

    This opinion was echoed by the thousands of perennially neglected NRL fans in the southern state,s and it was most encouraging to see the overwhelmingly positive response to the article.

    I also found it amusing that a couple of league haters sprang to the defence of the Nine Network, demanding compensation for the NRL media rights holder if they were to show NRL games at decent hours.

    I guess they really like quality shows like Farmer Wants a Wife and Excess Baggage.

    Yesterday, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy approved the Nine Network’s request to broadcast selected rugby league games on its digital multichannel GEM.

    Nine’s managing director Jeffrey Browne stated that “this is a win-win situation for all the stakeholders – the viewers in these markets, the NRL, the Federal Government and of course Nine, whose joint mission is to bring the game to as many people as possible”.

    “We are particularly grateful for Minister Conroy’s positive and prompt consideration of the network’s application to make it a reality,” he added.

    Ironically, anti-siphoning laws, which were meant to ensure that Australian sports fans could access their favourite game on TV, were in fact in the way of NRL being shown on TV in the southern states.

    So there you have it – no mention of compensation, no mention of inferior ratings.

    Indeed the ARL commission, Mr Browne and Senator Conroy should all be applauded for their common sense.

    Thank you.

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    The Crowd Says (196)

    • March 31st 2012 @ 7:25am
      Boomshanka said | March 31st 2012 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      Great waking up Saturday morning and not having to have a news embargo before sitting down to waste the first few hours of the day watching sport that should have been played the night before.

      Loved it last night! Was great to sit down with the kids at the end of a big week and enjoy entertaining sport.

      Despite what Jeff Browne says, Nine have been dragged to this position. It makes little sense for Nine to capitulate (in the middle of a negotiation period), however their position was untenable with other media changes afoot.

      Big thank to the Communications department for their effort (they’d been actively encouraging Nine to apply for over a year, before Browne finally applied, despite what Nine would have us believe).

      • March 31st 2012 @ 10:31am
        Westie said | March 31st 2012 @ 10:31am | ! Report

        This would never have occurred under a Abbott led Liberal-National government.

        How many years under John Howard did the government sit on their hands in every matter regarding communications, from sport’s tv rights to the NBN?

        Abbott = Luddite.

        • March 31st 2012 @ 10:59am
          Boomshanka said | March 31st 2012 @ 10:59am | ! Report

          Just to bring some balance back and not wanting to start a political code war, Labor and in particular Senator Conroy gave an understanding that he couldn’t follow through (requiring a change in legislation) and them went onto drag his feet (in getting the legislation changed).

          We had 16 months of delay, 67 drafts from when changes to the anti siphoning legislation were announced (Nov 2010) to yesterday’s coverage.

          Conroy had given a concession to the AFL / FOX when their media deal was sealed. He simply ran out of time and could not allow the hoarding by Nine to continue whilst blindly allowing the AFL to have sold direct to Subscription TV (which is technically illegal – as the law stands today). An injunction (challenging the legality of the AFL/FOX deal) would have been too embarrassing and politically suicidal for this government of “decisiveness & action”.

          • April 1st 2012 @ 12:42am
            Westie said | April 1st 2012 @ 12:42am | ! Report

            What I am saying and anyone who is being honest will acknowledge that the Liberal/National/Catter troika would never ever do anything that involves vision or upsetting their paymasters, the oligarchs that run the commercial media in Australia. In other words, NRL would stay where it has for 30 years and that is after midnight anywhere south of Wagga and west of Wagga.

    • March 31st 2012 @ 8:28am
      Ian Whitchurch said | March 31st 2012 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      If the Ministers response was a “positive and prompt” shepherding them through a loophole, then the problem wasnt the anti-siphoning legislation.

      • March 31st 2012 @ 9:20am
        Boomshanka said | March 31st 2012 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        The anti siphoning legislation was/is still a problem, as Nine used this to justify warehousing / hoarding of the sport for so many years.

        The current interpretation of the draft legislation (which sees Fox hold listed and protected sport in violation of the law – as it stands) has seen Nines position untenable given Rugby League fans are/were disadvantaged because of the way this was handled.

        Nine will tell the world it was them that “pressured” the minister into approving the exemption, the truth is extremely different.

        • March 31st 2012 @ 11:04am
          Jeff McGinn. said | March 31st 2012 @ 11:04am | ! Report

          At the end of last year Nine had to be bombarded by fans to get the finals series shown the same day that the games were played. Gem was and has been since it’s conception the obvious place to show our game. Ch9 did not want to use this option last year despite what their management are now saying.

          How many Storm fans got ‘BLOCKED’ from their facebook page for continually requesting that the game be promoted (Some deserved to be blocked by their wording) but the majority were just asking the relevant question albeit repeatedly!.

          Boomshanka is correct in saying that Channel Nine should not take the stance that they have gone out of their way to please us. The complete opposite is true.. But for the ‘rights’ to broadcast our game, Channel Nine would still be telling RL viewers that nobody in Victoria, Tasmania, Adelaide and Perth really want to watch the games.

          And wasn’t it great to see English Super league broadcast on Eurosports (for all those lucky enough to be able to afford the exorbitant costs of Foxtel that is!..

          • April 1st 2012 @ 5:34pm
            Boomshanka said | April 1st 2012 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

            Watched Jeff Browne on Wide World of Sports earlier.

            If one subscribes to the “lying if looking left” science of body language (often glancing towards the creative side of the brain instead of memory recall from the right if telling the truth), then the AFL life member / Nine Exec & Eddie McGuire’s lawyer was struggling to come across truthful and sincere.

    • March 31st 2012 @ 9:47am
      damo said | March 31st 2012 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      was fantastic last night in Adelaide i could watch two games og
      f NRL and one AFL free! And collingwood and two NSW teams lost! great night

      • March 31st 2012 @ 1:17pm
        JamesP said | March 31st 2012 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

        GEM Adelaide audience for Storm game last night = 3k

        • April 1st 2012 @ 12:10am
          JamesP said | April 1st 2012 @ 12:10am | ! Report

          My mistake. Adelaide rated donuts. Not sure if it was telecast

          Perth rated 3,000 – not a good look for a potential new NRL franchise…

          • April 1st 2012 @ 1:05am
            NF said | April 1st 2012 @ 1:05am | ! Report

            JamesP it’s pretty obvious you’re anti-nrl and is content on seen is suffer ain’t you death-riding league hey. Grassroots should be the main focus in Vic,WA & SA which in turn increase ratings, interest, etc.

            • April 1st 2012 @ 3:08pm
              clipper said | April 1st 2012 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

              I seem to remember a number of the league fraternity used to make fun of the Iron Chef rating higher than the Swans in Sydney. I don’t think there would be anything that would rate lower than 3,000!

              • April 2nd 2012 @ 2:17pm
                Benny said | April 2nd 2012 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

                Except that when the Swans game rated less than SBS when it was shown in Sydney it was a game involving Sydney’s AFL team. A Melbourne Storm v Newcastle Knights match, on an alternate digital channel, without promotion, in Perth would not be expected to get many viewers there. Plus it would have been on at 4.30pm in Perth.

              • April 2nd 2012 @ 6:02pm
                Phelpsy said | April 2nd 2012 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

                The wgole Iron Chef thing has grown legs – if I recall right – it out rated the AFL during the half time show – that was all???

              • April 3rd 2012 @ 8:01am
                Benny said | April 3rd 2012 @ 8:01am | ! Report

                @Phelpsy – you recall incorrectly, it already had legs. In 2010 up against Sydney v Richmond, Iron Chef averaged 112K and Swans v Tigers averaged 79K, plus got beaten by A Touch of Frost and Heartbeat.

            • April 3rd 2012 @ 12:19pm
              Jaceman said | April 3rd 2012 @ 12:19pm | ! Report


              Hinds was just promoted to the Sydney chief writer at the SMH and needed to show his credentials – Fairfax were annoyed that the AFL bought time on 2SM and 2GB rather than Fairfaxes 2UE so this was their revenge. Saturday night is a poor night for Free TV hence the NRL doesnt show FTA games on that night. Even the mighty NRL dont get more than 200K to Saturday night games Australia wide on pay-TV and it is the only game on at one time. The Sydney numbers wouldnt have included the number watching the other AFL game on pay-TV but admittedly would have been small no in Sydney. This is the problem with both sides in this conversation – they are looking at one week..NRL and AFL will be on minor channels in states where they are not popular because they are niche sports but its the national reach that codes are after and at the moment the AFL is in front but the NRL is trying hard to catch up/…

          • April 1st 2012 @ 7:28am
            Boomshanka said | April 1st 2012 @ 7:28am | ! Report

            Because of the differing timezones,Adelaide rated 3k for the storm game, 5k for the broncos on Gem with a further 2k watching on Nine post midnight. Perth achieved 6k +5k for Gem and 5k (post midnight on Nine).

            That makes 10k for Adelaide 16k for Perth.

            With a reported 20k watching the game post midnight in Melbourne against 26k watching live in HD on Gem would suggest that many fans did not know the game was on.

            Late scheduling change (two days notice from announcement to broadcast), first hit out against a big game in the first round of AFL in Melbourne. It’ll grow.

            • April 1st 2012 @ 9:18am
              Whites said | April 1st 2012 @ 9:18am | ! Report

              There are 475 panel homes in each of Perth and Adelaide. This means 1 panel represents 3000 people in Adelaide and 1 panel represents 4000 people in Perth. The statistical relevance of the ratings when they are this low is not very high.

          • April 1st 2012 @ 5:42pm
            Westie said | April 1st 2012 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

            Yeah saw that. Only 3k. Lithuanian soccer would rate higher if it was SBS. Perth is not obviously the place for NRL.

            They should just worry about their heartlands. Gosford, Rockhampton, Brisbane, Toowomba and maybe, as a long shot Wellington.

            • April 1st 2012 @ 6:14pm
              NF said | April 1st 2012 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

              Well Westie you said and I quote ‘In other words, NRL would stay where it has for 30 years and that is after midnight anywhere south of Wagga and west of Wagga.’ With that in mind, and the fact RL never see the light of day in WA compare to AFL in QLD/NSW what ratings did you honestly expect. Just because it’s live doesn’t mean magically WA ratings will grow.

              Perth has a place for the NRL it just time & effort something the NRL administration lacks but it’s people like yourself with your insular, backwards thinking which has set back the code 20+ years with your type of thinking. Compare to the AFL who is willing to risk it and help out there expanison sides in QLD/NSW.

              Along time ago before the Lions become successful they were near death finacially and no-one gave a damn about them here til the AFL intervene and save them, now look at the benefits it brought them.

              P.S: I wonder what type of ratings AFL drew before Lions/Swans entered the competion, I’m sure it be just as bad as the 3k rating in WA but once the teams come in ratings & interest drew. So connect the dots Westie and open your eyes.

            • April 2nd 2012 @ 7:19am
              Crosscoder said | April 2nd 2012 @ 7:19am | ! Report

              Judging by the consistent crowds they have been getting in Perth fror NRL games,the time zone opportunitiesadn the numbers of Easterners mvoing there Westie,it is no wonder Perth is at the top of the list when it comes to expansion.
              You may not like it,but you can put your hard earned on it.

            • April 3rd 2012 @ 8:21am
              Benny said | April 3rd 2012 @ 8:21am | ! Report

              @Westie – If only the AFL thought like you for the past 30 years, then they would have died out long ago.

              Perth have got crowds of over 15K to the last two NRL games played there and had 87K viewers for the 2011 NRL GF (see:, so there is interest. A Storm v Knights game on a digital channel without promo on at 4:30pm, aint gonna get much interest in Perth. Rockhampton only got 6K to a RLWC game in 2008, and only has a total population of 80K, in fact the whole of Central Qld (incl Bundaberg, Gladstone etc) only has 190K Perth is a fast growing capital city with 1.8 million, the 4th largest city in Australia, with many ex-NSW & Qlders and ex-NZers. Perth need a team to increase their share of the metro TV audience and increase revenue.

              • April 4th 2012 @ 11:59am
                Jaceman said | April 4th 2012 @ 11:59am | ! Report

                The problem with the West as the Force have found out its a long way to travel, there are few home grown players so they will have to pay more and they dont have a compliant newspaper (Stokes daily and News Ltd Sunday paper). NRL payers would have to live in perth – I think the Force players from eastern states spend only part of the year there

    • March 31st 2012 @ 10:45am
      Maximus said | March 31st 2012 @ 10:45am | ! Report

      Nine only felt pressured by the TV rights negotiations, the fact that links are now available to allow different programs in different cities on the minor channels (they probably dragged their feet on this one), they have 3 times the capacity so they have room to show niche content. In their defence, they were not legally obliged to show it (otherwise Gallop would have had them in the courts) on their main channel (no excuse though on a Sunday afternoon when there was no local Melbourne AFL teams playing). I am sure they had a deal with Fox (common owners at the time of the TV deal) not to show it live in Melbourne because News was throwing $6m at the Storm (at least in the public view) to generate Pay-TV subscriptions. So all yuo southern league fans can stop complaining and watch the footy and be sure that all parties were at least partly to blame for the delay, Nine, Fox, NRL…BTW i dont recall people were defending the Nine network per se demanding compensation – they were pointing out that the NRL signed an agreement for extra dough (as gallop now admits) and had hoped public pressure would make Nine show it in melbourne while still ngetting the extra cash.

    • March 31st 2012 @ 11:06am
      Bearfax said | March 31st 2012 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      The predelection for Australian Rules football on TV stations both free and paid has always made me wonder if there are people of influence behind the scenes trying their best to convert us all to that game. Great game but it doesnt deserve the coverage it gets compared with Rugby League.

      In Sydney we have Oz Rules played consistently on some stations, and on occasions more frequently than League. Check out the comparative coverage in Melbourne. Then look also at the newspapers.

      Pay TV now has an Australian Rules exclusive station, while League has to share with Union and other sports. Fox’s FoxSports is dominated by Australian Rules in the winter months. An average coverage of news items reveals Australian Rules at times occupies up to three times more time than any other code durring the winter months…at one time the news items had almost ten minutes of Oz Rules and a total of 7-8 minutes of League, Union, Soccer, Basketball and swimming together…frequently you have to sit through deep analyses of each Oz Rules game coming up followed by a short run down of coming League and Union games.

      To me its not just NINE that’s causing a problem for league supporters and its about time media organisations in general started to give League the respect it deserves. Oz Rules may be a good game and well run, but it isnt that much better than what League has to offer and the media outlets should be taken to task about it.

      • March 31st 2012 @ 12:05pm
        The Greatest Game Of All said | March 31st 2012 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

        “The predelection for Australian Rules football on TV stations both free and paid has always made me wonder if there are people of influence behind the scenes trying their best to convert us all to that game.”

        Its starting to appear that way isnt it, secret handshakes and blood oaths? Nah! Thats just silly.

        As Paul Kent from the Dialy Telegraph said, AFL as a sport and culture is extremely insular and arrogantly dismissive of anything un-AFL.

        But Rugby League cant blame everyone else for its problems, we only have ourselves to blame for becoming a pawn for the media.
        For starters, the ARL Commision need Perth and another venture,OUTSIDE of QLD and NSW, take your pick from Adelaide, NZ or even South Africa. Lets bring something more to the negotiating table, make them an offer they cant refuse.

        Then, like AFL, maybe we can have our own secret boys club.


      • March 31st 2012 @ 12:12pm
        JVGO said | March 31st 2012 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

        The smh has obviously changed its policy away from an AFL/Union friendly one to an all out RL blitz. We have always had a subscription which I would have dumped after Magnays attacks on the Sharks in 2008 if i hadn’t been living overseas. But this means I don’t have to buy the Tele at all anymore, which I used to simply for the league. Even Richard Hinds has to write articles about RL and today there was just one article on AFL, re Ben Cousins no less. I guess they’ve recognised that consciously pissing of RL fans in Sydney is a dumb commercial move.

        • March 31st 2012 @ 1:38pm
          clipper said | March 31st 2012 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

          The SMH, like most papers are ‘dumbing down’ in order to survive in this digital age – I even saw and ad which went along the lines of ‘Afganistan, Pakistan, Khardasian”!

        • March 31st 2012 @ 11:28pm
          Maximus said | March 31st 2012 @ 11:28pm | ! Report


          At last you have seen the light. The SMH is P$$$sed that the AFL is spending heaps of money with the teleegraph and bought radio programs on 2SM and 2GB rather than the SMH sister radio satation 2UE. The Only way they can get back is to give them negative publicity buut if you start seeing AFL ads in the SMH, the AFL coverage will improve – you get what you pay for in Sydney…

      • March 31st 2012 @ 4:07pm
        Plotter said | March 31st 2012 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

        There’s just a massive demand for Australian Rules news and opinion nationally. The rugbys and soccer have fewer people interested in them, so local media outlets are more sensible outlets for coverage of them.

        And it also cuts both ways. Here in Brissy, there’s a “secret club” at the Courier-Mail that relegates Aussie Rules to low coverage. It forces me and a lot of mates to buy the Melbourne papers, or to head online for our fix. Particularly when you want coverage other than of the Lions or Suns.

        • March 31st 2012 @ 4:26pm
          The Greatest Game Of All said | March 31st 2012 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

          Boo hoo, at least AFL fans get a good share of AFL coverage in Brisbane, how much space/time do you think 5 time grand finalists the Storm get in Melbourne? Not nearly as much as they deserve, but you already knew that.

          • April 1st 2012 @ 6:31pm
            Goannajack said | April 1st 2012 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

            Blame your ex bosses for not signing a better contract…

        • March 31st 2012 @ 8:34pm
          Queensland's Game is Rugby League said | March 31st 2012 @ 8:34pm | ! Report

          Aussie rules may not be a minority sport in Brisbane, but it isn’t one of the more popular ones, either. Most of the people who play it in Queensland are southern ex-pats. Few Queenslanders bother to even keep an eye on the AFL ladder, let alone an entire match.

          If I ran the Courier Mail then I wouldn’t give AFL any more space than is awarded to field hockey and basketball.

          Aussie rules fans should count their lucky stars that the Courier Mail gives it so much coverage.

          • March 31st 2012 @ 11:30pm
            Maximus said | March 31st 2012 @ 11:30pm | ! Report

            Has a lot to do with the news Ltd Pay-TV deal for AFL and News slightly at odds with the NRL over a few issues…like having to subsidise the Storm in the new ALRC deal…

      • April 3rd 2012 @ 12:21pm
        Jaceman said | April 3rd 2012 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        Media outlets play one off against the other for their own vested interest – to say they favour one over the other is ludicrous – competition between the codes means they will get advertising from both…

        • April 4th 2012 @ 6:21am
          Boomshanka said | April 4th 2012 @ 6:21am | ! Report

          Or no competition between the codes means they have a monopoly and with the target audience not split, they can maximise their revenue stream.

          As you say Jaceman, its got nothing to do with favouring one sport over the other. The days of hoarding sport for this purpose are now dead.

    • March 31st 2012 @ 11:14am
      Jeff McGinn. said | March 31st 2012 @ 11:14am | ! Report

      Maximus. — There was always a clause in thelast TV agreement that Nine were to show their games i Vic etc: at a ‘reasonable timeslot!. David Gallop and his Muppets were too indifferent to ensure that this would happen.

      You are correct in saying that all parties were at fault for our lack of coverage across Australia and yes we will sit back and enjoy the coverage, starting fro last night!, (the first time I have been in bed before 2am (In NRL Season) for 10 years.

      • March 31st 2012 @ 11:31pm
        Maximus said | March 31st 2012 @ 11:31pm | ! Report

        In that case Gallop should be sacked – what sort of contract is that????

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