4 min read

NRL reportedly closes in on $200m broadcast deal with US prime-time TV


As the NRL’s historic season-opening double-header in Las Vegas draws near, CODE Sports is reporting the ARL Commission is currently engaged in discussions for a five-year, $200 million broadcast deal to broadcast NRL matches live during American prime-time.

The NRL will make a major breakthrough on US television in early-March, with Fox Sports 1 set to deliver live feeds of the Rabbitohs-Sea Eagles and Broncos-Roosters fixtures to American audiences.

V’landys is now outlining a plan for NRL double-headers to be broadcasted live in America until the conclusion of 2028, aligning with the code’s five-year deal to host premiership games in Vegas.

This endeavour forms a crucial part of a comprehensive broadcasting strategy that envisions select premiership matches being showcased live in the US every week throughout the NRL season.

V’landys is optimistic about the NRL’s ambitious foray into the US market, estimating potential broadcast and gaming revenue exceeding $200 million – with the possibility of even greater returns if rugby league secures regular prime time slots on American TV.

Confirming the NRL’s pursuit of prime-time exposure in a country with a population of 330 million, V’landys asserts that rugby league’s NFL-style intensity can captivate American viewers.

“The double header being shown live is a huge coup for rugby league and it’s important we stay on prime-time TV in America,” V’landys told CODE Sports.

“These two games will be shown live on American TV. This is a first for rugby league – but I would like for it to happen for the entire five-year deal.

“We will speak to Fox executives after the event, see what was successful, what wasn’t. I’m confident we will have the NRL live on American TV for the next five years.

“We can’t just be there for one week, we want the whole NRL season to be shown live in America if we can.

“Fox Sports is a valuable and cherished partner. They have done everything they can to help us and we’re keen to go to the next level with a greater TV presence in America.”

Fox Sports 1, a pay-TV service, reaches over 90 million American households and extends its broadcasting reach to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, providing the NRL with a vast audience of 137 million.

The live Round 1 broadcast will feature South Sydney taking on Manly at 6.30pm Pacific US time, followed by Brisbane’s clash with Sydney Roosters at 8.30pm, targeting television prime time in markets such as Las Vegas, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles.

While acknowledging that the NRL will not overshadow the NFL, NBA and MLB, even a modest share of the US market presents a lucrative opportunity to tap into a fresh TV audience.

Leveraging the timing of the NFL season conclusion with next week’s Super Bowl and the MLB season’s commencement in April, the NRL aims to capture the attention of American sports fans during a period of heightened interest in new content.

“We’re in talks with Fox in America,” V’landys continued

“The executives there have been unbelievable, they have been a remarkable partner and without their support, we would have been wasting our time in Vegas.

“The negotiations have been fantastic. I consulted Fox as to where the NRL should go in America, so they were a crucial partner, and they were supportive of prime-time screening of NRL games.

“The Broncos are one of the biggest brands in Australian sport and they will be live on Fox 1 in America.

“We only dream about this – it’s going to be the highest TV profile we’ve ever gained.”

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