The Nine Network appears poised to lock in a contract extension for NRL broadcast rights in a deal that will ensure the network remains the free-to-air home of the sport until 2027.
Details of the new deal, which will run from 2023 until 2027 are expected to be confirmed later this week.
Nine had been facing stiff opposition to maintain rights to the NRL. According to recent media reports in SMH, the Seven network had formed a partnership with Foxtel to launch a rival bid for the sport.
It’s understood the rival proposal could have seen Fox Sports coverage of the competition broadcast on free-to-air by Seven in a move that would have allowed Seven to dominate Australia’s two biggest footy codes while also providing a significant promotional and marketing base for Kayo.
Had the joint Seven/Fox Sports deal been successful, it would have provided a significant blow to Nine with the Australian Open Tennis being the only other big franchise sport in its stable.
As the existing rights holder, Nine has first rights of refusal to outbid rival offers for the free-to-air rights.
If confirmed, the new deal with Channel 9 will provide a significant financial windfall for the NRL at a time when it is looking to invest heavily in the establishment of an additional team in Queensland.
Nine had agreed to pay $575 million in cash and contra under its previous rights deal however, this figure was reduced in 2020 after the sport was devalued to the impact of COVID-19.