National Rugby League fans will be able to watch more live games on free-to-air TV and on Channel Nine’s digital platforms under the new broadcast rights deal announced today.
Nine Entertainment Co announced this morning it had secured NRL broadcast rights for the 2018 to 2022 seasons.
Under the new deal, four games will be broadcast live from Thursday to Sunday – one more than the current three.
All finals, State of Origin and any other special event matches will also be shown live.
In addition to television broadcasts, the network has also acquired the rights to live stream those games across its digital platforms.
The deal will cost the network an average of $185 million per year, which will be reduced if the NRL elects to grant pay simulcast rights for certain games.
The broadcaster said more than 270 hours of football will be broadcast live and free each season, double the amount under the current deal.
Nine Entertainment Co CEO David Gyngell hailed the deal as a game-changer for NRL fans.
“Rugby League is part of Nine’s DNA,” Mr Gyngell said.
“This is a transformational outcome for supporters, Rugby League and Nine, enabling viewers to see the best of the NRL, live and free, 4 days per week, anywhere, on any device.
“As the audience for television fragments, the value and marketing power of free, live premium sport across multiple media cannot be underestimated.”
Channel Nine has televised the NRL under its Wide World of Sports banner since 1992.