Channel 9 & Network 10 still interested & Amazon battles Foxtel in the Rugby Australia 2021 TV Rights race

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This week we have seen some players making progress regarding the proposed Rugby AU deal for 2021.

It looks like Optus & Channel 7 chose not to enter the race.

But a few other broadcasters are still in the mix as we head towards International Rugby territory over the next three months.

Fox Sports

Image Reference: Wikipedia

They are still interested in staying as the home of Rugby Union in Australia for another five years.

If Fox stays there, then they will continue to broadcast the whole package:

  • Super Rugby AU
  • Wallabies & Rugby Championship Matches
  • Proposed National Club Championship
  • Shute Shield & QLD Premier Rugby (new addition)
  • State of Origin (new addition)
  • Proposed Super 8 Intercontinental Cup (new addition)

We will have to wait and see if Foxtel views Rugby Union as a Tier 1 sport.

They were the first ones to invent Super Rugby and changed the viewing landscape of Rugby Union in Australia 25 years ago in 1996.

Otherwise, it will be a massive hole to fill left by the subscription broadcaster.

Amazon

Image Reference: Tony Webster via Flickr

Move over Optus; there is a new streaming player named Amazon in the house.

Having broadcast plenty of sports over the last few years, they would like to make its foray here into airing sports content.

We do not know how much money they will bid to prize off Foxtel for the next contract period’s Pay-TV portion.

But I guess Amazon will put these games via their Prime Video streaming service should their bid succeed.

It would be a new era for rugby fans to flock to at Amazon & build a dedicated audience all under the one roof.

Just look at the Optus model with the English Premier League back in 2016.

Since then, they have expanded to FIFA/UEFA events, Europe, and Asia to broadcast more Soccer content.

Nine Network

Image Reference: DocklandsTony via Flickr

Channel 9 would like to have the entire Rugby Australia package and put most of the games via Stan.

But Nine says that putting sports content on Stan will be a completely new strategy that may or may not work.

If Nine wants to get back to Rugby Union, they might take a cheap option & partner up with Amazon or Foxtel.

The Wallabies games will always attract each network with the national interest.

It would be great if Nine can at least bundle up the Wallabies package alongside one LIVE domestic game every Saturday.

Should Nine bid to regain Test Cricket at home involving Australia & some Big Bash League games, they will not have much to spend.

Network 10

Despite the loss of Supercars & alleged plans to exit airing sports, they are still interested in the bidding race.

The only package that rates well is the Wallabies Games at home.

So far, Ten has offered less money than the $3.5 million they currently pay per annum from 2016-2020.

Now everything has changed due to COVID and the South African teams swapping to play in Europe.

I do not know what Ten thinks about expanding Live & Free Rugby into the domestic and club scene.

But it looks like at this stage that Ten will want to keep airing the Wallabies Matches as long as it takes.

Reaction

Whoever bidder wins the Free to Air TV package; this is my message below.

Please air at least one Super Rugby AU and National Club Championship game LIVE every Saturday, including the finals.

Yes, it is understandable to have a Pay TV presence & inject the cash Rugby Australia needs to develop its grassroots & talent pool program.

But it will be lovely at the same time for these Rugby fans to follow their clubs without having to fork out lots of money.

Verdict

I guess Amazon because I think it will be time to change Rugby’s viewing landscape in Australia.

If they do win the rights, then Amazon will offer new Rugby fans a better deal.

That will be $7 a month to watch all of these Rugby games.

Look at the other prices they are offering right now:

  • Kayo Sports at $25 a month.
  • Optus Sport at $15 per month.

Otherwise, Foxtel would be okay to stay there as long as RA gets the funding they need to improve at the grassroots level.

The Free TV package will be a two-horse race.

I do not think Network 10 will get any sports rights shortly.

They just lost the Supercars with only Formula 1, MotoGP & Melbourne Cup left on their menu.

But Network 10 will only retain the Wallabies games if Rugby Australia accepts their offer.

They are the only Free TV network out there who is serious about this sport.

Otherwise, no one else will challenge them for that package.

And Channel 9 would most likely want to get Test Cricket back & maybe land the Big Bash League if Channel 7 successfully rips their contract with Cricket Australia.

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