National rugby league fans can breath a sigh of relief.
The NRL coverage will stay on Nine – live and free – in a five-year deal inked today, which secures the broadcast rights to the game from 2023 to 2027.
As well as five more years of NRL coverage, Nine will remain the exclusive home of two of Australia’s most-watched sporting events, the State of Origin series, and the Telstra Premiership NRL Grand Final.
With a rugby league partnership going back 30, Nine will continue to work in close collaboration with the NRL to expand the game across linear and digital platforms – led by a commentary team featuring Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, and Johnathan Thurston, lending their dedication to the game and analytical expertise.
The new broadcast deal will give Nine three additional matches across the season, resulting in more NRL on free-to-air TV, plus new digital rights to offer footy fans a premium viewing experience.
And after securing the biggest-ever live BVOD audience in Australia for the 2021 NRL Grand Final, 9Now will continue to be the destination for live streaming and catch-up viewing, as well as delivering over 100 hours of Nine-produced digital content.
State of Origin will return to its traditional home of Wednesday nights in three interstate clashes and Nine will continue to cement its commitment to the women’s game with expanded broadcast, digital offerings and reporting of the NRLW competition.
In addition, Nine has also secured the radio and audio streaming rights, under which matches will continue to be broadcast in Sydney and Brisbane through 2GB and 4BC, extending Nine’s NRL reach and aligning TV and exclusive radio rights on 4.00pm Sunday games. Plus, all Broncos versus Dolphins games will stream live in Brisbane.
The continued growth of Rugby league is guaranteed as Nine works alongside the Australian Rugby League Commission, the National Rugby League, and the clubs to promote the game.
Peter Costello, Nine’s chairman said: ‘This is a major deal for our business to bring this exciting sport to the Australian public across our platforms. The negotiation has been constructive and in the spirit of partnership across our businesses and we thank the NRL for the positive engagement in the process for an outcome that benefits all Australians and fans of the game.’
Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V’landys AM said: “Today is an exciting day for our fans with the free to air broadcast deal of the NRL Telstra Premiership, NRLW and Ampol State of Origin locked in until the end of 2027. This is more than a broadcast deal, it’s a partnership to grow rugby league using all of Nine’s media platforms – television, radio and print. It was a priority for the Commission to secure the long term future of the game.
“In doing so it was important to ensure that a long term partnership reflected the commission’s desire to grow the game at all levels, to invest in innovation and to ensure we have a partner that can help grow the game from participation to pathway competitions and premierships,’’ he said.
“I want to thank Nine Chairman Peter Costello and Chief Executive Mike Sneesby for their commitment to rugby league and loyalty to our game, the most watched sport in Australia this year.”
Mike Sneesby, CEO of Nine, said “We are very pleased to extend our 30-year partnership with the NRL for a further five years. This certainty enables both Nine and the NRL to continue to bring the game live and free to all Australians and to develop the game for the clubs and the broader NRL community. This is an outstanding result as together we build a strong media partnership delivering quality, and free, NRL coverage for all Australians for the next six years.”
Brent Williams, Nine’s head of sport, said “For 30 years, Rugby League has played a major role in the history of Wide World of Sports and we’re delighted to be extending our association at a time when the sport is entering such an exciting growth period.”
“While Nine will continue to be the exclusive home of the game’s biggest events, we look forward to partnering with the NRL to help the continuing growth of the women’s game and to develop targeted grassroots initiatives. We’re excited to collaborate with the clubs and players of all levels to deliver new broadcast initiatives and digital offerings across our multiple platforms.”