Daniel Pettigrew – Television Rights – What To Do?

One of the main talking points for the first month or so of the 2012 NRL Off Season has been off the field and it’s a big issue – the next TV Rights Deal and indeed who they will go to.

Now for those who don’t know (which I doubt will be many of you) Channel Nine currently shows three games a weekend. Two on Friday Night, one of them being Live and one delayed on a Sunday Afternoon. Fox Sports currently has the rights to show the remainder of the games that round.

It was announced just last week that one of Channel Nine’s spin-off channels GEM will show all of these games that Nine currently have around Australia which is a very good idea, some would argue that it should have been done years ago. While I do agree with them, TV is all about the money and I’m sure any TV executive would tell you the same.

The problem for Nine is that a lot of League fans have got sick of the way they treat the fans. While the showing to the other states is a good move that nobody would argue, a lot of people are saying the actual coverage of League this year has been worse than years before. Fans are getting sick of ads in games (more of that in a second) and their has been a lot of talk about the dumping of Andrew Voss. Along with that, it seems a lot of people are unhappy with the way the Sunday Footy Show and the Sunday Roast has been combined into one big show.

I’ve recently spent two years in the UK where obviously the main sport is football/soccer and TV Stations are all over it. Depending on what type of game it is one of either the BBC, ITV or Sky Sports will show it. No ads will be shown during this. I remember watching England play the USA in the 2010 Football World Cup on ITV HD and purely by accident someone hit the wrong button and it went to an ad, sadly for ITV just as Steven Gerrard scored a rare England goal. The number of complaints they got was unbelievable.

Now I know Nine need to make money and I have no issue with that however I do wonder if in this new rights deal the NRL and the TV Stations who get the rights will come to some sort of agreement about this. One that has been suggested is that we stop play, similar to AFL. I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do is our game thrives on being fast paced.

So what would be the ideal scenario?

The answer is, I don’t think their will be one.

Whatever channel ends up with the rights, not everybody is going to be pleased with it. It seems that Nine are in pole position to hold onto the rights, even though the talk has been that Ten would love to have the rights. Not so long ago there was talk that they would show all eight games Live. Either on the main channel or on One HD. Currently they do have an NRL Show on a Thursday Night hosted by Andrew Moore which is enjoyed by most who watch it.

I do however wonder how practical it is to show every game Live on free to air. While I would love it I do wonder if it would put some people off going to games if they knew they could simply watch game after game at home for free. It wouldn’t put me off but may put some off which I’m sure might be a worry to the people running the game.

In all honesty, I don’t see much changing with the new contract which I know won’t please a lot of people. The NRL have a huge chance here to improve the coverage of the game, let’s hope they manage to do so.

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