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SBD Global/August 21, 2012/Media
NRL Bid Negotiations Heat Up; But Are They Enough To Profit On Pay-TV?
Published August 21, 2012
INVITEES: In Sydney, Brad Walter noted a new $1B TV rights deal "may be finalised before the end of the month." The heavy hitters who turned up to present the bids for their respective networks included Lachlan Murdoch and James Warburton (Ten), Kerry Stokes (Seven), David Gyngell and Jeff Browne (Nine), Ian Frykberg (Fox Sports), Patrick Delany (Foxtel) and Kim Williams (News Ltd). It is understood "talks continued over the weekend" and the ARLC negotiating team of Chair John Grant and fellow Commissioners Ian Elliot, Gary Pemberton and Peter Gregg were at the game's League Central headquarters again Monday (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/21).
IS IT ENOUGH?: Also in Sydney, Julian Lee noted that with NRL negotiations underway, analysts and the media industry are "questioning whether sport can deliver the numbers for pay-TV." Despite outlaying about $625M for the Australian Football League rights until '16, Foxtel's subscriber numbers are "lower than the market expected." Now as it backs a reported $1.1B bid for the '13-18 rugby league broadcast rights, some in the industry are "asking whether that last remaining weapon in Foxtel's armoury -- sport -- can lift subscriber numbers." Although the Olympics was a "critical success for Foxtel," it came at a cost, with $20M understood to be the amount it lost on the Games. A media analyst said the figures and 13% churn rate among subscribers "debunked the myth" the AFL was driving growth. The analyst added, "And now they are going to blow their brains out by doubling their bid for league. The only thing it's going to do is drive up its costs" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/21).