NRL ready to cash-in on TV ratings - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL ready to cash-in on TV ratings

By Steve Jancetic 07/09/2011 06:07:10 PM Comments (0)

NRL chief executive David Gallop claims the game has never been better placed to cash in on its increasing dominance of the Australian television landscape.

With negotiations for a new broadcast deal imminent, the NRL on Wednesday trumpeted stunning ratings results as part of its annual state of the game report.

There were increases across both free to air and pay television platforms, with rugby league responsible for 74 of the top 100 most watched programs on subscription television, while the State of Origin series was the most watched sporting event on free to air.

The figures are sure to put the NRL in a powerful position at the negotiating table - with some even predicting they could outdo the AFL's recent $1.25 billion deal.

"Pay television is a key revenue item for us going forward," Gallop said at NRL headquarters in Sydney.

"Live sport is something that everyone knows drives subscriptions in pay television and to have 74 of the top 100 shows, we'll be looking for value for that.

"We expect it to be priced very highly in terms of what it delivers in terms of people wanting to subscribe to pay television because of rugby league.

"The game is the best it's ever been and it needs to be because we're in a competitive environment.

"It's a critical year commercially for the game - we've got some big deals that we're ready to do ... it's a year of opportunity."

The biggest increase in ratings was for Saturday night matches, which received a 26 per cent boost on 2010 figures.

But with the possibility games could be sold off individually or as packaged deals, one timeslot which is sure to attract plenty of interest is Monday night football.

There was a 17 per cent increase in Fox Sports' ratings for Monday night matches in 2011, and there are already murmuring that OneHD could make a play for those games from 2013.

"We expect a contest for our rights across a number of timeslots," Gallop said.

"Monday night - if you look at 17 per cent growth in it - you'd have to be looking at that as a free to air broadcaster and wondering if you could get a slice of that."

Ratings increases were just one of a number of solid results for the NRL, which also produced solid performances in attendances and club memberships, which were up 28 per cent.

Crowds actually dropped by 0.6 per cent to 3.13 million, but they fared far better than some of their competitors with the AFL's crowds down 5.5 per cent, Super Rugby eight per cent and A-League 15 per cent.

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