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Opinion

NRL free-to-air fixtures for 2020: Where does your team sit?

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Roar Rookie
21st May, 2020
3

About a month ago, many of us thought a May 28 return was a little ambitious from the NRL.

Less than a week out from that day now, us league-starved fans (and sports fans in general) finally have something to look forward to.

But let’s get to the point. How easily can you watch your team free of charge? There’s a new 20-round draw in town and I’m about to let you know many games your team has that require no paid subscription.

From most to least, here’s the list:

1. Broncos: 15
2. Eels: 13
3. Rabbitohs: 12
4. Storm: 12
5. Roosters: 11
6. Knights: 9
7. Cowboys: 8
8. Panthers: 8
9. Dragons: 7
10. Sea Eagles: 6
11. Tigers: 6
12. Bulldogs: 5
13. Raiders: 3
14. Sharks: 3
15. Titans: 1
16. Warriors: 1

Channel Nine has stuck to its predictable formula of the Broncos having the most games and the Warriors the least, but the biggest surprise here is how many Sydney teams occupy the lower half of the FTA games ladder.

Usually the order goes Broncos, every Sydney team and then all teams outside of Sydney and Brisbane at the bottom. It’s certainly a shock to see my Newcastle Knights in sixth on this ladder this year when they’ve had the third-fewest FTA fixtures since 2008.

Kalyn Ponga runs the ball for the Knights.

(Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Other shocks include the Bulldogs and Tigers being the bottom six in terms of FTA fixtures when they’ve respectively received the second and third-most FTA games in the past decade.

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On the whole though, a 20-round season means five fewer rounds and 20 per cent fewer games than before. Wouldn’t it then make sense to simply reduce the number of games each team had in the original 2020 draw by 20 per cent?

Suppose they had reduced each team’s number of games by 20 per cent, here’s what the ladder would look like.

1. Broncos: 14
2. Storm: 11
3. Rabbitohs: 10
4. Dragons: 10
5. Eels: 10
6. Sea Eagles: 9
7. Panthers: 9
8. Roosters: 9
9. Tigers: 9
10. Cowboys: 8
11. Bulldogs: 7
12. Raiders: 6
13. Sharks: 6
14. Knights: 5
15. Titans: 2
16. Warriors: 1

On this ladder, the Knights plummet from sixth to 14th. The Dragons, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Eels and Raiders noticeably rise and the Roosters and Eels take a drop. The other eight teams remain much the same.

In the meantime, let’s compare the 25-round draw that was and the 20-round draw that now is.

The Knights and Eels are the biggest winners here, with more FTA games than they started out with in the original 25-round season. The Roosters keep all 11 of their games and Warriors also lose nothing for what it’s worth.

NZ Warriors

(Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Those only mildly affected include the Storm, Broncos, Titans, Warriors, Cowboys and Rabbitohs losing one or two games each from the 20 per cent season reduction.

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The Panthers and Bulldogs are a fair bit worse off, with three and four fewer games respectively. Those affected the most are the Dragons, Sea Eagles, Sharks and the Raiders, who have all lost five games each.

This particularly sucks for the Raiders and Sharks, who have gone from a respectable eight games apiece to a measly three. You can imagine Raiders fans would feel particularly hard done by changes, with the Green Machine getting the second-fewest FTA fixtures over the past 12 seasons.

One way or another though, I’m sure the excitement of the NRL coming back will drown out any grievances you hold with Channel Nine for stuffing your team over – for now.

Bring on May the 28th!