Australian rugby union in trouble as Fox Sports pulls out of TV deal for the first time in pro era

Tooting Carmen

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https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sp...f676b41570d258

Fox Sports axes Super Rugby broadcast deal as RA negotiations fail

Fox Sports is set to walk away from rugby union, ending a 25-year broadcasting partnership that began when the game turned professional.

Months of talks between Fox Sports and Rugby Australia came to a halt on Wednesday, and the struggling code will likely have to make a deal with Optus.

Sources revealed RA chief executive Raelene Castle and Foxtel boss Patrick Delaney have not spoken face to face in weeks, although emails had been traded.

The stunning development puts major pressure on rugby, with the game needing an extraordinary new deal to stay afloat.

The existing television deal, signed in 2015 and running through to the end of this year, was worth a total $285 million, giving RA $57 million a year.

However, that deal was bolstered by investment from Britain’s Sky Sport, who added millions to show southern hemisphere rugby. Sky has now pulled back on their level of interest.

Head of Fox Sports Peter Campbell said rugby would continue to be broadcast on the channel in 2020, but decisions about broadcast rights from 2021 were in the hands of Rugby Australia.

“We never comment on commercial negotiations or speculation about broadcast rights,” Campbell told foxsports.com.au.

“Fox Sports will continue to be the home of rugby union with all Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship and Wallabies games in 2020.

“The rugby rights from 2021 onwards are a matter for Rugby Australia.”

Fox Sports and Network Ten are the domestic broadcasters, with Fox showing all Super Rugby games and both screening Wallabies Test matches.

With Fox out of the equation, the most likely outcome is for RA to sign a deal with Ten and Optus, who would show Super Rugby on subscription as they do the English Premier League football.

RA will present its package to the open market within a fortnight.

“Rugby Australia’s preparations for the next five year rights period have led to a key focus on creating alignment across the rugby competitions in Australia,” a spokesman said.

“Our strategy is to provide an integrated whole of rugby presentation to our fans and, importantly, we are confident that there is real interest from the market in this content.

“We are preparing to take the package to market early this month.”

Fox Sports is owned by News Corp, publishers of The Daily Telegraph.

With News Corp’s backing in 1996, rugby went professional and Fox Sports broadcast the first season of Super Rugby, and the partnership with the game has continued unabated until now.

Signs of unrest emerged last year when RA failed to finalise their television deal for 2021-25, despite partner nations New Zealand and South Africa signing theirs.

In attempting to gain more money for rugby, Castle refused Fox’s initial offer, which is when Optus emerged as a rival candidate.

Problems were clear when just before the Super Rugby season kicked off last week, Fox released highly respected rugby commentator Nick McArdle and former Wallaby Drew Mitchell from their roster, and cut their weekly rugby show.

The first round matches averaged just 33,000 viewers last weekend, down 19 per cent on round one last year and more worryingly, games with Australian teams were down 35 per cent.

In their attempt to pitch a multi-layered package, RA has blocked Fox Sports’ offer to broadcast the Shute Shield and Queensland Premier Rugby this year.

The Sydney club competition, owned by Club Rugby TV, is broadcast by Channel Seven, who are paid by Sydney Rugby Union to show the match of the round each Saturday.

Fox Sports offered to pick up the $300,000 annual fee to show Shute Shield matches and Queensland club rugby games, with Seven — who have the rights until the end of 2024 — agreeing to the proposal.

But RA want club rugby as part of their entire package and blocked the move, presumably so if they could not make a deal with Fox Sports, they could sell it to Ten and Optus.

Club Rugby TV can either sell to Fox Sports or RA, at which point Castle can take RA’s broadcast package to the open market.
 

Steve-o

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Has Raelene Castle actually achieved anything that has helped rugby in Australia? Besides elevating women's rugby, which doesn't appear to have translated into a financial benefit, what has she done? Nobody seems to get along with her.
 

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i dont think we can just blame her, Rugby is a minority sport here and decisions like keeping the Rebels and ditching the Force were also big mistake form before her time
 

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Certainly not just blaming her as there's a lot of history there but the question still stands... What positive thing/s has she done since appointment that is actually helping the situation?
 

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Certainly not just blaming her as there's a lot of history there but the question still stands... What positive thing/s has she done since appointment that is actually helping the situation?
fair enough, kind of feels like asking what the captain of the Titanic did to save the boat after hitting the iceberg though, might have to let it really hit rock bottom before they can start moving up again
 
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Hmmmmmm

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Without a TV deal yes
They’ll get their TV deal. Castle is playing hardball and the Murdoch owned press and Fox don’t like it. They’ve literally been the only ones reporting the doom and gloom.
 

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Nothing like a good bit of self reporting to drive down the purchase price of the only thing keeping foxtel alive besides Friends reruns.

I hope Optus get the rights. **** Murdoch.
 

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Nothing like a good bit of self reporting to drive down the purchase price of the only thing keeping foxtel alive besides Friends reruns.

I hope Optus get the rights. **** Murdoch.
or one of the free to air channels, get it cheap but might expose more of the population to it
 

Derpus

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Has Raelene Castle actually achieved anything that has helped rugby in Australia? Besides elevating women's rugby, which doesn't appear to have translated into a financial benefit, what has she done? Nobody seems to get along with her.
Shes ****** off the old boys club that have spent the last 15 years driving the sport into the ground. She must be doing something right.
 

Hmmmmmm

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Shes ****** off the old boys club that have spent the last 15 years driving the sport into the ground. She must be doing something right.
Agreed. Love it.
 
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