The $90 million six year naming rights deal between the National Rugby League and Telstra is being portrayed today as a major “victory” for the NRL, but on closer inspection there is not much doubt Telstra has found itself a very good deal.

The $90 million includes around $30 million in contra advertising and production costs. So for $10 million a year, Telstra gets naming rights for the NRL premiership, and exclusive rights for “new media” and rugby league.

Replays of all NRL games will be available to Telstra customers on Telstra’s Next G and 3G and Bigpond broadband services 24 hours after matches finish. Highlights and video updates will be available during games, as well as live results and statistics.

It effectively gives Telstra a monopoly over rugby league in the new technology area – with the exception of the planned mobile TV technology. Nine, which has free to air television rights locked up, won’t give Telstra that area if it is introduced, and Telstra will be “compensated” if it is.

But the deal also gives Telstra some rights to renegotiate the internet and mobile deal during the life of the contract.

Rugby league on mobiles and the net is already a major drawcard, and will be further boosted this year by the expanded NRL premiership with the addition of the Gold Coast Titans. Premiership matches will now be shown live on either Nine or Fox on Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon and now Monday night.

So Telstra will benefit from the premiership naming rights – and new media rights – with games being played on four days of the week.

At the same time the NRL secured another $30 million in sponsorships, with Fosters securing Friday night naming rights, Bundaberg Rum the Monday night rights and Coca-Cola the new ball sponsor.

But as far as bargains go, Telstra is the winner.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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