NRL Season May Kick Off Without TV Deal In New Zealand, Sky Hopes To Retain
The New Zealand broadcast rights "are set to be the last piece" of a A$1.2B ($1.25B) financial puzzle left to be solved when newly hired National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith begins work next week, "with most players understood to have voted for a new collective bargaining agreement," according to Walter & Kilgallon of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The NRL "may be forced to start the season without a new television deal in New Zealand as negotiations with Sky NZ drag on." Sky NZ CEO John Fellet "indicated he was confident of retaining the rights," but the NRL "is considering a deal with a free-to-air broadcaster." Sky NZ paid A$14M to broadcast the league's matches, as well as all of the New Zealand Warriors' U20 games, and "officials believe the rights are worth more." NRL interim CEO Shane Mattiske had "hoped all broadcast deals would be finalised by the start of the season" on March 7 (SMH, 1/26).