The NRL could introduce a 6pm Friday night game as part of a new schedule from as early as 2016.
Under a new proposal detailed in News Corp Australia papers on Wednesday, the new Friday evening timeslot would be played in city centres outside of Sydney, while Monday night football would officially be scrapped.
The prolonged television rights deal between the NRL, Nine Network and Fox Sports is finally coming to a close, with the pay TV station looking likely to buy back a fifth exclusive game from Nine, ensuring it retains its Super Saturday showcase.
All matches could also be shown live on Fox Sports, with Nine’s Thursday night, Friday night and Sunday afternoon matches simulcast on the station at a cost of $15 million.
Fox Sports’ decision to buy back the Saturday night game, as well purchasing simulcast rights off Nine lowers the free-to-air network’s deal expenditure to $700 million from its original $925 million price, while Fox Sports will pay up to $800 million in the five-year deal.
With digital, overseas and naming rights still up for grabs, the overall deal could be worth as much as $1.85 billion over five years, an increase of more than $800 million on the most recent television rights deal signed in 2012.
Fox Sports had previously been reluctant to re-enter negotiations with the NRL after it froze the pay TV network out of its announcement in August, which originally guaranteed Nine televised matches on each day of the weekend.
However the resignations of NRL CEO Dave Smith and Nine chief David Gyngell are believed to have sped up the process.
While the new schedule is set to begin in 2018, if all parties come to an agreement quickly, it may be ushered in before the release of next season’s draw.
6pm: Fox Sports
3pm: Fox Sports
5.30pm: Fox Sports
7.30pm: Fox Sports
2pm: Fox Sports