So will the Packer Empire’s $40 million a year TV rights offer to the
NRL get the green light? The deadline for a decision is tomorrow and
the Nine Network, using its first and last offer rights, has made the
NRL an offer that’s mighty attractive. It had a seven-day deadline,
which expires tomorrow.

The NRL can accept the offer or tell Nine, too bad but we want to see
what the market has to offer and then go and talk to other potential
bidders. The NRL says there are other interested parties, which means
the Seven Network. The Nine offer is $27 million a year more than the
current price of $13 million a year. That will make News Ltd, half
owners of the NRL, happy. It will be they who decide if the Packer bid
should be accepted. The clubs will want to take the Packer money
because it is so much more than what the game is getting now.

Advertisers, naturally, will foot the bill. Nine apparently wants two
games on Friday nights, one live and one on replay, with a third game
on Sunday afternoon. There could be an extra game from 2007 with a new
club admitted, so that would keep Foxtel in the loop. The higher price
means that Nine is facing substantially higher costs at a time when it’s struggling to cut costs and maintain profit margins.

And Crikey’s rugby league writer, Jeff Wall, writes:

In what will be mixed news for league fans, it appears Nine is
absolutely determined to keep rugby league. The $40 million figure would seem to me to be a reasonable one… and
it must have News Ltd rubbing its
corporate hands with glee. At least in theory, News would be able to lift its
dividend from the NRL by ten million or more… leaving the NRL with an extra
ten million+ to spend on the game. And won’t the NRL clubs, most of whom are not in the best shape
financially, just love that?

Apparently, the deal includes one concession, or sweetener. Under the reported deal, Nine will televise three NRL games each

And, God bless them, one game will be LIVE!

The full story is on the site here.