Rugby league matches will be played five days a week next year as part of an historic broadcast deal announced today.
The $1.8 billion deal will see games played on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday next year, with Monday Night Football to be axed at the end of 2016 and replaced by a Friday 6pm game from 2017.
Highlights of the new deal include:
• Telstra Premiership matches will be held five days a week in 2016 – from Thursday to Monday inclusive – before reverting to four days a week (Thursday to Sunday) in 2017
• From 2017 the Monday night game will be moved to Friday at 6pm
• Nine Network will telecast games live and free to air on Thursday and Friday nights and Sunday afternoon in 2016
• FOX SPORTS will show all eight games every weekend – including five exclusive telecasts each weekend. Super Saturday, featuring three live games, will be retained by FOX SPORTS.
• The last five Saturday night games of each season will be telecast on free to air television in the build up to the Finals series
• From 2017 FOX SPORTS will run a dedicated Rugby League channel – giving the game more exposure than any time in the game’s history
• News Corp Australia will use its local media and newspaper resources to promote the game wherever it is played
• And it will use its worldwide resources to take NRL on to the global stage where we believe over time its incredible appeal will see an army of new fans emerge
• Telstra will remain the naming rights partner of the NRL and will telecast the game digitally on its mobile network as well as replays and highlights on its new Telstra TV platform in 2016.
Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman, John Grant said the package was a win for all the game’s stakeholders and especially its fans.
“We have delivered the very best outcome for the game as a whole,” he said.
“In revisiting the number of free to air games in this agreement, we were responding to the value both Nine and News Corp Australia saw in the Saturday game. Compared to our current schedule, this result still means more games live and free for our fans and gives grass roots and elite clubs and organisations immense financial benefits.”
The deal was done despite the NRL not having a CEO in place, with Dave Smith resigning last month.
The NRL will release its 2016 Draw later this afternoon.