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SBD Global/December 12, 2012/Media

Telstra Signs $105M Sponsorship, Digital Rights Deal With National Rugby League

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Telstra is "set to sign a sponsorship and digital rights agreement worth more than A$100M ($105.2M) with the Australian Rugby League Commission as early as Wednesday -- the latest deal in its push for more sports rights," according to Stensholt & McDuling of the AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW. The deal means Telstra will continue as major sponsor of the National Rugby League competition, extending the six-year, A$90M deal it signed in '07. Although the new deal "is expected to have the same annual value as the previous agreement, it is understood Telstra will now have rights to broadcast NRL matches live via mobiles, tablets and Internet protocol TV, as well as at least some of the digital rights for the three weekly matches telecast by the Nine Network." It previously held all the NRL digital rights (AFR, 12/11).

AMMUNITION FOR PLAYERS:
In Sydney, Honeysett & Tabakoff reported "the deal falls short of the A$150M digital deal" the Australian Football League secured last year, but is an increase on the NRL's previous digital deal. The deal "will give the players further ammunition to pursue a better pay deal for themselves" at Wednesday's next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement talks. Wednesday's meeting "was already expected to be tense" following conflicting reports Tuesday about ARLC Chair John Grant's "attitude toward the CBA negotiations." While he was quoted as saying he "was willing to compromise," he also said that "the commission was prepared to step in and set the cap itself if the issue dragged on." Rugby League Players' Association CEO David Garnsey said that "the union would not be bullied." Garnsey said, "That's not something that's been communicated to us. John is not part of the negotiation team. We're negotiating with representatives of the NRL. We're not going to be bullied into a deal, but I don't think that's what he's doing" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/12).
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