Australian rugby fans may need to change the channel to watch their favourite sport from now on, as Rugby Australia, the governing body for the sport in the country, has struck a lucrative deal worth over $100 million with Nine Entertainment Corporation, for all their games to be streamed on Stan, the company’s video-on-demand service. This marks the end of a 25-year partnership between Rugby Australia and News Corporation’s Foxtel channel.
The contract is currently for three years, under which all Super Rugby matches, along with Super W and New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa matches, will be shown live and ad-free on Stan. This is quite a significant development, and even more so given the current situation with regard to the pandemic. While fans in New Zealand have been able to attend sports games for some months now, as the country has been able to completely control the outbreak, Australians have not been as lucky. Thus, while fans are forced to stay home, this deal will mean that they will be able to watch more matches than before. Again, this has wider ramifications, since it is not just sport which has been affected by the pandemic. Almost all outdoor entertainment options have become impossible to attend at the moment, including casinos for example. Thus, online live casinos have also grown quite popular, as people look for ways to keep themselves entertained while at home. Such live dealer casinos are a good way for people to pass the time, and so sports and other traditional entertainment avenues need to come up with ways to keep their fans connected while at home, or risk losing them to these new online entertainment options.
Thus, it is important that this new deal with Stan brings more rugby to Australian screens than ever before. In addition to the matches and competitions mentioned above, the Nine Network will also screen the Saturday night Super Rugby Australia matches live, for the first time ever. In addition, Stan will also cover the Rugby Championship, Bledisloe Cup, Wallaroos Tests, as well as Tests for Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa, with selected matches also being shown on Nine for free. Additionally, club rugby games in the states of Queensland and New South Wales are also included in this deal.
The deal is just subject to final sign-off by the SANZAAR Unions, and it shows just how much rugby fans in Australia will be able to watch with just a single subscription. Stan has also been growing at a rapid rate, already boasting over two million subscriptions, and that number is set to rise sharply now with the inking of this deal. This is an intelligent move by Rugby Australia as well, as it has recognized that most content consumption is taking place online nowadays, and therefore it is necessary to provide a streaming service option for fans, with many people now choosing to ‘cut the cord’ and do away with traditional cable and TV subscriptions entirely. The wealth of options available online means that traditional media forms will need to adapt to survive, and with rugby being such a popular sport in Australia, it is refreshing that the governing body has chosen to innovate and move with the times, rather than sticking to the old format which had worked for the past 25 years, but was in danger of being outdated rapidly.
Of course, the finances involved will also allow Rugby Australia to invest in grassroots rugby, at a time when funding is even more essential than ever before. Thus, this deal has the potential to be a winner for all parties – Rugby Australia, Nine, the fans as well as the sport itself in the country.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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