We are getting closer to the wire regarding this two horse Rugby TV rights race.
It seems that Nine will beat Foxtel & Network 10 at the checkered flag.
Nine Network wants to take the whole lot this time.
It is a game changing tactic to become the new exclusive home of Rugby Union.
I do not want to confuse the other rugby term. That is where Nine currently holds Rugby League for nearly 30 years.
Nine wants every single rugby match both club and country on Stan. It is a streaming subscription service they own since 2015.
That would boost their subscription viewership. I would say it would be somewhat similar to Optus Sport.
Like Optus, Rugby Union fans would only have to fork out $10–15 a month.
It is not bad compared on when they paid $25-50 a month on Foxtel. It has been the go to destination for two decades.
And Nine is going to put a stop sign to Foxtel from 2021.
Nine will also take over free to air rights off Network Ten.
Not only they will air the Wallabies games once again since 2012.
They will promise what the fans wanted for the first time.
That will be airing Super Rugby LIVE on Saturday Nights plus finals.
The National Club Championship should also be on the list.
I do not mean every game domestically as Nine will have to recoup money off Stan.
Though the State of Union Series should have exclusivity for free.
It is somewhat similar to what we see with Rugby League right now.
But one club game live for free every Saturday will make sense.
It is a good opportunity to attract rugby fans who are not able to pay for Stan.
Rugby Union in Australia will therefore benefit more reach from this deal.
And help bridge the gap to Aussie Rules Football & Rugby League.
Foxtel would have liked to stay on for another five years.
They may have done well as a loyal servant for a long time.
But they also managed to lock out rugby fans who cannot afford to watch.
It is something they are reluctant to give up some exclusivity with Super Rugby.
And it may be the real reason why every Free TV network chose to pass.
Foxtel did try to put Super Rugby LIVE in front of a paywall on Saturday Nights.
It would be on their free version of Kayo Sports a la Sky Sports Mix in the UK.
But not everyone would not know what Kayo Sports is & how to subscribe them.
Plus some of the elderly are still a traditionalist when watching only on TV.
Channel 9 would be able to teach them the same way they advertise with the NRL & Netball.
So Foxtel will not be missed going into the long term landscape of Rugby in Australia.
And Network Ten would also be gutted not to retain the Wallabies games.
Ten have broadcast them since 2013 & enjoyed this relationship ever since.
It will be interesting to see if Ten will want to give up sports altogether.
They still have MotoGP, Formula 1 & Melbourne Cup on their menu.
But they do stress that sports is not out of the picture just yet. Ten will only be there if it makes commercial sense.
Ten also benefitted from a great commentary crew of Gordon Bray.
He is well respected having called Wallabies matches for four decades.
But he is age 71 & Rugby fans here would like a fresh voice under Nine/Stan.
Someone like Sean Maloney or Tom Rehn would fit the bill.
Former Wallaby fly-half & full-back, Matt Burke provides great expert analysis. Both flexible in the studio & booth commentary.
He is also the weekday sports anchor on 10 News First in Sydney.
It will be interesting to see where Burkey lands in 2021.
Matt would be a great addition on Channel Nine in lots of roles.
It ranges from an expert analysis role to reading the sports news.
He can also host Sports Sunday if Nine wants James Bracey to focus on NRL.
More viewership/reach beats money at the end of the day.
Foxtel may be the highest bidder at $35-40 million ahead of Nine by $10 M.
But Rugby Australia have finally listened to the fans thanks to Hamish McIennan.
And the Nine Network will officially sign the contact in a few days.