“That’s now biting hard.”
If the NRL rejects the bid, Nine and FOX Sports will next come together to see if they can provide a joint agreement before the NRL goes to an open market.
The Sydney Morning Herald suggests Nine might forgo its exclusive live rights, allowing FOX Sports to screen matches simultaneously live.
That would drive the price FOX Sports would pay to above $100 million a year, allowing Nine, which is labouring under $2.7 billion of debt, to keep its costs down. It might have to pay $90 million a year to screen four matches a week, up from three under the current deal.
Seven and TEN have until August to come up with a better offer for the five-year contract. Seven has said it is interested in the three top-rating State of Origin matches. There is speculation that Seven will take on all the rights and then sell some matches to Nine or TEN.
Nine’s managing director Jeffrey Browne tells The Australian, “I am very pleased with our bid. I expect to have further dialogue with the NRL.”
Asked whether he expected the commission to take the rights to market, Browne said: “That’s up to them. We put a very, very strong bid in. I am sure they will give it serious attention.”