After signing a mega-money AFL broadcast deal, News Corp media magnate Rupert Murdoch has served up a thinly veiled attack on the NRL for blocking other media organisations from its own television deal.
Last week, the NRL sealed a $925 million, five-year deal with free-to-air broadcaster the Nine Network for the rights to screen four live NRL matches a week, the top-rating State of Origin series and finals.
On Tuesday, News Corp’s executive chairman pulled no punches at the announcement of a multi-billion dollar TV deal between the AFL, Foxtel, the Seven Network and Telstra.
“We’ve always believed this (AFL) is the premium code in Australia – it’s the national game,” Murdoch told reporters on Tuesday.
“We believe in the strength of the game and we will do everything we can to make it stronger.”
He also said Foxtel, part owned by News Corp, was putting its money where it believed the station would prosper.
Under the AFL deal, the pay TV provider will broadcast all nine games each round.
Foxtel will also telecast all finals, except for the grand final, to which Seven holds exclusive rights.
When asked whether the AFL deal would affect negotiations with the NRL, Murdoch said: “No, it won’t affect the NRL deal”.
Murdoch added he would not be personally involved in those negotiations.
Foxtel is yet to finalise how much it will pay to broadcast the remaining four NRL matches each weekend from 2018 – and possibly simulcast Nine’s matches.