The Nine Network and its associated
company, Fox Sports, are expected to emerge today with the National
Rugby League free-to-air and pay TV rights for the next seven years.

This was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald
by veteran sports writer, Roy Masters, who is good mates with Nine’s
rugby League boss, Steve Crawley, as well as being close to several
senior NRL executives.

PBL,
which owns Nine, has a half interest in the Premier Media Group, which
runs Fox Sports. News Ltd owns the other half. Masters
said Nine would pay $40 million a year for the free-to-air rights for
competition games, the State of Origin matches, finals and Test games.
Fox Sports would pay more than the $35 million a year it already pays
the NRL for the pay-TV Games.

Rugby league is the most popular
sport on pay TV, and each week the top four or five audiences are NRL
games. To put it in context though, we’re only talking between 180,000
and 350,000 people nationwide. That’s fewer people than would watch the
Friday night free-to-air games in Sydney on Nine most weeks.

Masters
also said that Nine was getting serious about the AFL and was snuggling
up to Foxtel to try to beat the Seven and Ten link-up.

Read more from Crikey’s rugby league writer, Jeff Wall,on the site here.

Peter Fray

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