Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver says he’s delighted with the ARU’s new $285 million TV contract despite conceding it was “meagre pickings” compared to the AFL and NRL’s billion-dollar broadcast deals.
Pulver hailed the 148 per cent increase in broadcast revenue as a “windfall” that would significantly boost the ARU’s ailing coffers.
He said the improved media rights from 2016 to 2020 would also re-energise the game at a grassroots level and enable important investment in key strategic areas to ensure its future health and prosperity in Australia.
While conceding the Australian rugby’s slice of the SANZAR pie was short of the AFL’s new $2.5 billion six-year broadcast deal or the NRL’s $1.8 billion five-year deal, Pulver said the ARU contract was comparable on a per-game basis.
“Anything with a `B’ in front of it is clearly tempting but we are very, very happy with our meagre pickings,” Pulver said after reaching an agreement that will allow Fox Sports to continue its 20-year partnership and the Ten Network to remain the free-to-air broadcaster.
“To achieve a 148 per cent growth in revenue from your broadcast outcome, I suspect is the largest increase of any code and it reflects, I think, the growing status that we enjoy in the Australian sporting landscape.
“And I’m confident that that sort of trend will continue.
“So, look, it’s not for us to try and match those codes in terms of the total broadcast value.
“It’s up to us to get the right growth we need for the growth of our game and I’m very confident that we’ve achieved that.”
Under the new arrangement with SANZAR – which Pulver said would be close to $1 billion when the New Zealand and South African unions revealed their cuts – Fox Sports retains the Australian TV rights for Test matches played in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as the expanded 18-team Super Rugby competition which will feature sides from Argentina and Japan for the first time in 2016.
And for the first time, Network Ten will show a full replay of the Australian match of the round every Sunday morning plus provide a one-hour Super Rugby highlights show each Monday night.
The new media rights deal also ensures the long-term future of the National Rugby Championship.