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Thread: Trans-Tasman speculation

  1. #211
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Optus not interested in Rugby Australia broadcast rights,

    By Zoe Samios
    September 13, 2020 — 11.45pm

    Optus has not formally expressed interest in Rugby Australia's revised broadcast rights package, leaving News Corp-controlled Foxtel in a strong position in negotiations with the under pressure code.

    The Singtel-owned telco provider was on the brink of securing a deal with Rugby Australia earlier this year before the coronavirus pandemic hit, but formal talks fell apart during the crisis and only restarted last month.

    Media industry sources who could not speak publicly because the process is confidential said Optus had not submitted interest in the code's revised rights package, which RA unveiled last month.

    The telco was now looking at alternative ways to grow subscriptions, but could return to negotiations at a later date, the sources said. "We don’t comment on rights, either current or future," an Optus spokesperson said.

    Before the RA broadcast rights talks restarted, Optus launched OS Fitness, a channel for subscribers with yoga and pilates, strength, core and high-intensity workouts that can be done at home. In August, 12 per cent of Optus Sport users watched the content. The fitness channel also experienced a large spike in minutes streamed after Melbourne entered stage four lockdown.

    Optus' absence from the official negotiating table leaves RA with fewer choices for a broadcasting partner. Fox Sports, which has broadcast Super Rugby since its inception in 1996, remains interested in rugby – particularly Super Rugby and Test matches. Amazon, which last week secured the rights to a one-off Eight Nations tournament in Europe, declined to comment on whether it was involved in the local tender process.

    Meanwhile Network Ten, which is currently the free-to-air broadcaster for the Wallabies matches, did submit a formal expression of interest. Ten is the only commercial free-to-air broadcaster to formally enter talks, but sources have indicated the broadcaster is looking to pay less than it currently does for the matches. Ten currently pays about $3.5 million a year as part of RA's $285 million deal signed with the broadcaster, Foxtel and BSkyB in 2015.

    Earlier this year, RA rejected an offer from Foxtel's sports network Fox Sports for the 2021-2025 rights which resulted in an open tender. Optus, which operates streaming platform Optus Sport, was in advanced talks to buy the rights, but they fell over when the pandemic hit. The telco provider's interest has subsided since then.

    In that time the code has gone through several major changes, including the installation of new chairman Hamish McLennan and interim chief executive Rob Clarke. Securing a new broadcast deal is one of the key priorities for RA as it looks to secure financial certainty for the code (the existing arrangement with RA's broadcast partners expires at the end of the year).

    When RA put its broadcast offering out publicly last month, it gave bidders the option to cherry pick different competitions and types of rugby content. This includes a combination of existing products like Bledisloe Cup matches and Shute Shield and new products such as a 'State of Union' three-game series. RA has not provided clarity on what next year's Super Rugby season will look like.

    The organisation has since announced the Rugby Championship will run in Australia. Clarke said the current broadcasters were very excited by it. "I know Fox and Ten will love the fact they’re getting such quality rugby at that time of the year and will drive, I hope, some subscriptions and viewership for them," he said.

    Sports codes are facing similar pressures to television broadcasters and telco providers due to the coronavirus crisis. Foxtel boss Patrick Delany said earlier this month that the subscription television operator would only focus on acquiring TV rights to 'tier-one' sports moving forward.

    So far this year, Foxtel, Nine Entertainment Co (owner of this masthead) and Seven West Media have secured reductions on existing deals with the NRL and AFL. The broadcasters, which lost large amounts of advertisers during the pandemic, argued a reduction in matches and lack of crowds reduced the value of the sports codes they broadcast. Seven is separately trying to terminate its contract with Cricket Australia.

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  2. #212
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Rugby union’s saviour could be Nine and Stan in broadcast shake-up

    By John Stensholt, Editor, The List
    4:56PM September 16, 2020

    Rugby union may get a financial lifeline from an unusual and potentially groundbreaking source: Nine Network and its online streaming service Stan.

    Nine is understood to have entered discussions with Rugby Australia about a potential broadcast deal that would see Wallabies matches telecast on Nine’s free-to-air channel and Super Rugby games mostly or only shown on Stan.

    The move would be a first for Australian sport to find a home on a streaming video on demand service, the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime on a global basis and Stan domestically have mostly focused on movies and comedy or drama series.

    While discussions are ongoing the sticking point is exactly what Nine or any of its rivals would be bidding for, given uncertainty over the future structure of Super Rugby.

    It is also unlikely that Nine, which already has extensive NRL and tennis commitments, would shell out tens of millions of dollars annually on rugby.

    But any competition for the rights would be welcome at Rugby Australia, which would not comment – nor would Stan – when approached by The Australian.

    Fox Sports is still interested in bidding for some rugby rights, though Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany recently said he was concentrating on “tier-one” sports in a presentation to an Asia-Pacific media conference.

    It is likely the “tier one” rights Delany was referring to did not include rugby union in general, though Wallabies Test matches would be an exception. Fox Sports have been lukewarm about paying large amounts for rugby since negotiations over an extension for its long-held rights for US$125m over five years broke down under the tenure of previous Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle.

    Nine have been monitoring rival Seven Network’s spat with Cricket Australia, and would be interested in bidding for some cricket rights should they become available – albeit at heavily discounted prices.

    Similarly, Network Ten has expressed interest in rights for Wallabies matches but only at a low price, and Optus, having previously been mooted as a contender, is now reportedly not wanting to pursue rugby and instead concentrate on its global soccer rights.

    Rugby Australia had launched a bidding process for its rights, which closed earlier this month without concrete bids but some loose agreements to continue discussions with some broadcasters.

    Whatever way the rugby rights go, the interest from prospective broadcasters is certainly at significantly lesser amounts than previous deals have paid and Rugby Australia, having already gone through rounds of cost-cutting and borrowed money from World Rugby, would still likely not be in a strong financial position.

    There is also ongoing uncertainty as to what television is actually bidding for regarding rugby. While the Wallabies will contest a series of Test matches in the next three months, including the Bledisloe Cup and The Rugby Championship, it is still unclear what a revamped Super Rugby competition will look like and when it would be played.

    Meanwhile, Rugby Australia has also been negotiating with its New Zealand counterparts regarding a possible trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, that would almost certainly need to begin in 2022 given COVID-19 travel restrictions.

    Nine has previously held rights to the Rugby World Cup in 2015, and given it has NRL rights for Friday night and Sunday afternoon matches would be unlikely to consider putting any Super Rugby games on free-to-air in those timeslots during winter.

    Rugby Australia is in the last year of a five-year $285m contract with Fox Sports, though the value of the 2020 rights were renegotiated when COVID-19 caused the suspension of Super Rugby for several months earlier this year. The final of that competition, now with Australian-based teams only, takes place in Canberra on Saturday between the Brumbies and Queensland Reds.

    John Stensholt

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  3. #213
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Presented without comment ...

    RA chief executive search on ice as Clarke extends time in top job

    By Tom Decent
    September 19, 2020 — 1.00pm

    Rugby Australia’s search for a new chief executive has been put on hold with interim boss Rob Clarke set to stay until at least March. But the man in charge of the code has poured cold water on the prospect of taking the job permanently.

    Chairman Hamish McLennan, who convinced Clarke to remain at the helm, insisted the extension had nothing to do with the calibre of candidates, but instead a desire for the pair to “bulldoze” through a crucial period for the game in the coming months.

    Clarke, the former Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels boss who was also chief operating officer at the Australian Rugby Union (now Rugby Australia), stepped into the top job in May following the acrimonious departure of Raelene Castle.

    At the time, Clarke made it clear he would stay in the interim role for three to six months. Until recently, he had decided he would be gone by Christmas.

    Clarke's plans to go travelling have fallen through because of COVID-19 and he was more than happy to take on the role while RA began the formal process of finding Castle’s successor.

    McLennan was appointed chairman a few weeks later and he has become a big fan of Clarke.

    Finding a new CEO hasn’t been at the top of RA’s priority list given there is a multitude of issues to deal with, including a 2021 broadcast deal, constitutional reform, cost cutting across the business, finalising a Test-match schedule, as well as a collective bargaining agreement on the horizon to go with player pay cut talks that will need to be finalised by the end of the month.

    Recruitment firm Hattonneale had compiled a shortlist of candidates but given Clarke will now stick around for another three months, those eyeing the chance to run rugby will have to wait a little longer.

    “I’m not going to be pressured or rushed into a decision when we’re solving massive issues,” McLennan said. “He [Clarke] and I get on really well and I trust him, as he trusts me.”

    Last month, the Herald reported that Chris White, the managing director of sports talent, sponsorship and marketing behemoth International Quarterback, as well as former NSW cricket boss Andrew Jones and SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos were potential options to replace Clarke.

    McLennan said his decision to ask Clarke to stay on had nothing to do with a lack of strong options.

    “We’ve seen lots of good candidates, but I’ve always said there’s no rush and considering the amount of work we need to do with the Rugby Championship and launching the new competition next year, Rob has kindly agreed to stay through until March next year,” McLennan said. “We’re making huge progress and having a few laughs while we bring it all together.

    “We’ve stabilised RA, got more engagement with the member unions, we’re driving costs down, we got the Rugby Championship, have broadcast negotiations in play and have made real progress on constitutional reform, so Rob and I are going to keep bulldozing forward.”

    There is a chance, albeit unlikely, that Clarke may stay on indefinitely. If things go smoothly in the coming months, McLennan may try to convince Clarke to remain in charge.

    However, according to McLennan, this is only a short extension and his colleague has no desire to remain in the role long-term.

    “He’s pretty committed to going sailing in the Mediterranean,” McLennan said.

    When contacted by the Herald, Clarke said McLennan was on the money and that he wasn't interested in committing to the role long-term.

    Meanwhile, McLennan declined to comment when asked about the Herald's story on Friday, which revealed Nine was yet to submit a formal bid for the next round of broadcast rights despite RA indicating to others it had.

    The chairman did not want to discuss any element of upcoming broadcast negotiations, which could be finalised in the coming weeks. Foxtel and Network 10 are the front runners to continue their partnership with rugby, provided they get the rights at a decent price.

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  4. #214
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Something something something

    Nine hasn't bid for rugby rights - despite RA indication it has

    By Tom Decent and Zoe Samios
    September 18, 2020 — 12.01am

    Nine Entertainment Co has not submitted a formal bid for Rugby Australia’s new broadcast rights package despite the governing body indicating to other bidders that it has made a formal offer.

    Sources with knowledge of negotiations said RA reached out to Nine on multiple occasions to gauge the broadcaster's interest in showing Wallabies matches and Super Rugby games on its television network and streaming services 9Now or Stan.

    However, the media company, which owns this masthead, has not expressed a formal interest in the rights, made a bid or discussed how much money it would be prepared to pay to broadcast the 15-man code. Nine declined to comment.

    The discussions between Nine and RA were informal and while Nine boss Hugh Marks has previously said it was not a priority for the network given its focus on rugby league, tennis and a potential foray back into cricket, a deal cannot be completely ruled out.

    Despite this, television sources told the Herald on the condition of anonymity that a senior figure at RA, directly involved in negotiations, indicated to incumbent rights holders that Nine had come to the table with an offer.

    RA’s best-case scenario is creating competitive tension in the market to drive up its price given the code is hardly in a position of power to demand a broadcast fee equal to or higher than previous years.

    An RA spokesperson declined to comment.

    A report in The Australian said Nine was considering putting rugby on either its main channel or online streaming service Stan, however sources poured cold water on that suggestion, saying a whole new commercial strategy would have to drawn up given there is no sport on the platform.

    Earlier this week, the Herald revealed Optus had not formally expressed interest in RA’s revised broadcast package despite reports last month the telco was set to land the rights.

    RA was close to doing a deal with Optus earlier in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and forced a delay in negotiations.

    The problem for not only Nine, but everyone involved, is that RA is yet to finalise what Super Rugby looks like next year, with the likelihood increasing that a domestic competition, in the mould of Super Rugby AU that will finish up this weekend, will continue for another year.

    Sports codes are facing similar pressures to television broadcasters and telco providers due to the coronavirus crisis. Foxtel, Nine and Seven West Media have secured reductions on existing deals with the NRL and AFL after arguing they had argued a reduction in matches and lack of crowds reduced the value of the codes.

    Seven is separately trying to terminate its contract with Cricket Australia and is refusing to pay the organisation its full instalment. Foxtel is also trying to secure a reduction.

    Foxtel, which is one of the current rugby union rights holders, has been in regular dialogue with RA and are the frontrunners to continue its partnership with rugby, which dates back to 1996.

    A Foxtel source said there had been “constructive discussions”.

    Media industry sources say that incumbent free-to-air broadcaster Ten is considering lodging a formal bid in the next couple of weeks but it’s unlikely they will offer the amount of money that RA would like to receive. Ten was the only free-to-air network to submit an expression of interest. Seven told RA it was not interested in the rights.

    It currently pays about $3.5 million a year as part of the existing five-year, $285 million deal with RA, Foxtel and BSkyB which was signed in 2015.

    Some broadcasters are more concerned about the financial stability of the sport, which they believe needs more investment rather than new game formats.

    The sources said the deal with the successful broadcaster is also expected to include naming and signage rights to the code.

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  5. #215
    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    The Bronze Star of Faith
    So Clarke spins complete bullshit about 9 bidding, potential bullshit about not staying long term and theoretical bullshit about the structure of the new comp and anybody on the planet is surprised?

    He does have extensive form. He could potentially be the key architect of the whole house of cards that has been rugby Australia (aru) since at least 2015

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    C'mon the

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