The halfway point of the 2015 NRL season marks the halfway point of the current five-year TV deal, which will conclude at the end of the 2017 season.
The new TV deal brings so many possibilities. An increase in TV revenue, a different network like Ten covering the game, a change to the season schedule, and expansion.
If expansion is to occur in season 2018, the start of the new TV deal, something needs to happen this year.
The bidding franchises have apparently been told they will have an opportunity to make a sales pitch to the NRL later this year. From there the NRL, with former Souths CEO Shane Richardson taking charge, will investigate each bid’s merits.
The issue has come to a head recently as the Brisbane Times recently reported a second Brisbane team, a rival to the Broncos, could be worth $250 million to the code.
But is that figure accurate?
The problem with expansion is not all 16 teams are financially sustainable, with the NRL helping out Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra, Newcastle and the Gold Coast.
However I can see the value of a second Brisbane team. This year, the Broncos are scheduled to play 11 Friday night games, while Nine also has the Broncos on three Sunday games, making it a total of 14 Broncos free-to-air matches in the first 20 rounds. That leaves just four Broncos matches on Fox Sports, so Broncos fans have no real need to get pay TV.
Brisbane’s underwhelming presence on Fox Sports means if a second team came to pass, then Fox would likely cover more than just four matches per year in the Northern capital.
Having a Brisbane team more regularly would mean more subscribers, hence higher Fox Sports ratings. Nine meanwhile would have diversity on Friday nights, with the Broncos and the new team alternating.
If the $250 million figure is accurate, what are the NRL waiting for? That money could help out the existing 16 clubs.
I can understand the NRL been cautious. But there’s coming a time when the NRL can’t afford not to expand.
As Jack Gibson once said, “If you’re standing still, you are going backwards fast.”