After effectively giving up their bid for partial rights to the AFL last year, Ten look set to go for the up and comgin NRL rights renewal as chairman Lachlan Murdoch (pictured) and his Chief executive James Warburton make a bid to take the NRL broadcastrights from Nine.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Ten has dramatically ramped up its interest in the game in recent months, so much so that it is already working out budgets to televise all eight matches per week.
Until recently, its interest had been confined to high-rating Friday or Monday night matches – but that has changed. “We want it all,” said one Ten source last night.
NRL chief executive David Gallop confirmed last night that Murdoch and Warburton had indicated a stronger interest than just one game a week in recent negotiations.
“That simply confirms the conversations we’ve had with James Warburton and Lachlan Murdoch in recent weeks,” Gallop said. “If you’re running a network and there’s the possibility of getting your hands on over 30 weeks of high-rating cross-demographic content, you would be mad not to be interested.”
The NRL is banking on a $1 billion payday from its next broadcast deal, which expires at the end of this year.
Gallop has long advocated the game would be willing to break up the television rights in order to bump up the value of the next deal.
It is understood Seven remains keen to broadcast State of Origin, although industry insiders said it has not discounted the idea of showing more matches.
It is understood Ten has now gone so far to start discussing possible commentary line-ups and production schedules to accommodate being the No. 1 rugby league broadcaster.
Murdoch, who was appointed chairman of Ten earlier this week, knows that Ten desperately needs high quality content on his network.There is also enormous pressure on the newly formed ARL Commission to strike a $1 billion-plus broadcast deal.
Chairman John Grant revealed last week that negotiations with current rights holders Nine and Fox Sports had started on February 1.
“Subject to our legal obligations, we would certainly consider breaking up our packages,” Gallop said. “We are in exclusive negotiating periods with our incumbent rights holders but subject to that we are obviously interested in the other possibilities.”
Ten remained tight-lipped on the network’s interest in the rights last night. “We look at all sports rights as they become available,” the spokesperson said.
Source, including picture: Daily Telegraph