What should Channel 9 do if they did win the Rugby Australia TV & Streaming rights from 2021?

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This morning, I’ve heard a piece from the Australian that Channel 9 is on the radar alongside Network 10 for the free to air package.

Not only that, but Nine would also want to take advantage of the Pay-TV package and shove it to its subscription platform, Stan.

It’s interesting to see that Nine would want the exclusivity as the home of rugby union in Australia.

In my opinion, despite the long-running downturn of this sport, the Super Rugby Australian-only competition did stand out this season.

It entirely focuses on five state-based teams rather than the mix of playing against Kiwi and South African sides where all three over the air broadcasters have little interest back then, only to show them as either highlights or delayed packages.

Now, whoever wins the next Rugby Australia TV package from 2021-2025, Rugby Australia figureheads like Hamish Mclellan would like a balance of free and paid content.

Free to Air package 

Nine only shows past movies on a Saturday night for most of the year with the only sports offering these days on free TV is the Aussie Rules Football either on Channel 7 or 7mate (depends on where you live).

If Nine gets to add a Saturday night Super Rugby game live on free to air, then that is something every rugby fan would like to see as the next level up rather than having to pay a subscription to watch them all the time.

Other than that, Nine can work around airing every Wallabies game, which is a requirement via the anti-siphoning laws.

They should also add a State of Origin series plus one Shute Shield game (afternoon) & 2 x National Club Championship matches (both afternoon and night) on a Saturday.

That way, Nine building around local and state derbies at least LIVE and showing national interest of the whole country on free to air is what backs up valuable content at the end of the day.

Paid content

There’s no surprise that Nine would want to explore adding sports to its subscription streaming platform, Stan.

Nine does have the exclusive Netball rights with 2 or 3 games airing on Free TV for most of the season plus the Diamonds games, and the rest they on-sell it to a subscription via Telstra TV.

It’s something Nine want to repeat this path with Rugby Union via Stan.

Like every paid platform, Stan will get to show everything Rugby Australia has to offer, from all Wallabies games to Super Rugby and club rugby both LIVE and on-demand.

If people paid to watch these games, then Stan’s subscription rate per month would be as low as $10 compared to $25 via Kayo Sports & $15 on Optus Sport.

Verdict

I think Channel 9 getting the rights as the exclusive home of rugby would be great to have that original content.

We all know how they had plenty of issues with scheduling that lasted only two seasons plus using the Fox Sports commentary rather than their team where they lack a ball-by-ball caller.

But like any free to air network, they want to make sure at the end of the day that this product they showcase across the country brings back value.

And with the domestic season featuring the best of local and domestic derbies alongside the Wallabies games that grant national attention compared to taking a low-rated Super Rugby competition featuring a mix of Australia, New Zealand, and South African sides are doable.

It’s something Nine should do to prize off Fox Sports and Network 10’s noses in a way to let the audience watch the big event local, domestic, and Wallabies games live on free to air TV while giving another option of the full package via Stan.

They had done it before when they first brought the Netball rights four years ago that aired two games live for free & the rest on-sold to Telstra TV of the Australian-only Suncorp Super Netball competition. 

Since then, they’ve developed to an excellent standard with better ratings featuring local derbies that women in sport aspire to be one day.

And before Nine got into netball, the accessibility for this sport on TV wasn’t good with one live game on Network 10 & the rest of Fox Sports in the Trans-Tasman ANZ Championship coverage.

Nine can do the same with Rugby with increased viability via over the air and form some sports content on Stan.

Alongside Rugby on Stan, you can chuck in there with some Netball, possibly some Big Bash cricket to complement Tests, the important Big Bash games & avoid scheduling conflicts with the Australian Open Tennis on Nine should the Channel 7 saga with Cricket Australia board gets worse.

Plus, whatever is left that Network 10 has left in their ongoing sports coverage such as Formula 1, MotoGP & Rallying.

It’s clear with the control of Viacom; they see entertainment and drama as more profitable than sports and news.

Yes, it’s gutted that Network 10 chose to snub the Big Bash again earlier this year, lose the Supercars Championship, got rid of Matthew White, offer a cheaper rate to retain the Rugby & most likely all offload their sports offerings to shut down the sports department.

But best of luck to them going forward.

And Seven would stick to Aussie Rules Football and Motor Racing for most of the year.

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