10 enters race to secure Australian Rugby Union Free-To-Air Broadcast Rights

The 10 Network is believed to have entered the race to secure broadcast rights for Australian Rugby.

The SMH is reporting 10 has lodged a bid to extend its existing agreement to broadcast Rugby in Australia in a deal that would see it paying considerably less than what it is currently.

10 is the current free-to-air partner for Rugby Tests involving the Australian team. The network is believed to be paying around $3.5 million a year for the rights which was negotiated in partnership with Foxtel.

10 had been expected to team up with Optus for future Rugby rights however those plans collapsed when the telco withdrew from the bidding process last month due to cost pressures resulting from COVID-19.

10 withdrew from the bidding process for Supercars earlier this year due to cost pressures and is understood to currently be seeking a cost reduction for its Melbourne Cup carnival rights. Ratings and advertising revenue for the horse racing are expected to be well done this year due to limitations on fans attending.

TV Blackbox understands Fox Sports remains interested in securing Rugby Tests, but is far less interested in domestic Super Rugby. Currently, Fox Sports is paying all production costs for its low rating Rugby broadcasts. Sources within Foxtel speaking to TV Blackbox, have described the current negotiation process as “slow-moving”.

Nine is understood to also be interested in securing Rugby rights but is yet to submit a formal bid and would likely only do so if Rugby Australia was willing to accept an advertising revenue share agreement. The ability to secure full digital rights is also a key priority for Nine.

After 12 months of unsuccessful talks with existing partners, Rugby Australia took its next media rights package to the open market in early August. At the time the code hoped all bids would be submitted by Sept 4, however a lack of competitive bids has caused the process to be extended.

Rugby Australia is offering broadcasters the opportunity to bid on various competitions, or the entire package which includes:

  • The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup for the Australian Men’s national team, the Wallabies
  • International Tests for the Australian Women’s national team, the Wallaroos
  • A ‘State of Union’ competition between New South Wales and Queensland, with players to play for their state of birth or where they played their Club rugby
  • An Australian domestic Super Rugby competition including five Australian teams, or, a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition that includes five Australian teams.
  • A four-week Super Eight competition, to be played at the conclusion of the respective domestic Super Rugby competitions, and be a cross-over Championship between the top two teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as well as one team from Japan and South America
  • A short form National Club Championship between the top Premier Club teams in Australia following the completion of the respective Club competitions
  • New South Wales’ Shute Shield competition as well as Queensland’s Premier Club Rugby competition
  • A showcase of the best schoolboy Rugby in Australia

The current Rugby broadcast agreement is due to expire on December 31.

10 had been airing Sunday morning replays from the Super Rugby competition, but dumped that agreement when COVID caused the competition to be suspended.

Kevin Perry
Co-Creator and Editor of the TV Blackbox website, Kevin Perry is an experienced media commentator focused on TV Production, Consumer Tech, SVOD & Sports Broadcasting. | Call/Text 0428 275 111
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