HomeAustralia and New ZealandV’landys outlines NRL’s $1bn export business potential amid record profit result

V’landys outlines NRL’s $1bn export business potential amid record profit result

V’landys outlines NRL’s $1bn export business potential amid record profit result

The National Rugby League (NRL) disclosed a $103.1 million surge in profits last year – reaching $700 million in total for the first time – at Wednesday’s AGM.

This increase was attributed to a 25 percent rise in crowds and a 14 percent boost in linear TV audiences. Despite a slightly diminished surplus of $58.2 million for 2023, owing to substantial funding increases, the NRL’s net assets now surpass $260 million, with a strategic target of reaching $500 million by 2027.

Chairman Peter V’landys envisions the NRL transforming into an export product worth $1 billion, setting its sights on securing an exclusive wagering partnership in the United States. Following his re-election as ARL Commission Chairman, V’landys outlined his ambitious three-year growth plan, emphasizing expansion in the US, a broader Pacific footprint, and domestic acquisitions of additional hotels and cash assets.

The United States is a focal point for V’landys and NRL CEO Andrew Abdo, particularly with the upcoming inaugural season-opening Las Vegas double-header on March 3 (AEDT).

Wagering plays a central role, with the league eyeing three potential companies for an exclusive deal in the coming months. Once sealed, this partnership would grant the NRL a percentage of all bets placed on the competition, and some games would be live-streamed on the partnering company’s app.

“Sports betting is becoming legalised in America in every state,” said V’landys, who is also CEO of Racing NSW.

“In the Super Bowl last week they generated $23bn in turnover. I’d love to have $23 billion in 10 years in racing, let alone in one game. It just shows you the difference in the markets.

“We’ve got three major organisations in sight. And we’re going to try to do the best deal we can from those. It’ll hopefully be done straight after Vegas.”

Beyond financial gains, an exclusive betting deal offers the NRL access to a database of punters for targeted sport advertising. The league has already made strides in this direction, with a video featuring Russell Crowe explaining rugby league rules garnering one million views, and the season-opening double-header set to air on Fox Sports 1 in America.

Expanding subscriptions through the WatchNRL app is another avenue the NRL plans to pursue, especially with a current subscriber base of approximately 3,000 in the US. Marketing initiatives extend to England, aiming for a stronger return on international broadcast rights. V’landys anticipates a relatively modest cost of the US venture this year, projecting substantial returns in the later years of the five-year deal to play in Vegas.

Acknowledging the inherent risks, V’landys believes that capturing just one percent of the American market could result in three million subscribers, translating to an additional $650 million in revenue.

“Combined you could turn it into a billion-dollar export business because it’s such a big market,” he added.

V’landys also envisions further growth in the Vegas project, including women’s games and inviting English Super League clubs to broaden audience appeal.

In the midst of these strategic moves, V’landys and his fellow commissioners, including Gary Weiss, Peter Beattie, and Alan Sullivan, have seen a significant pay increase of $400,000, bringing the total pool to $1.2 million, as reported by the Australian Financial Review.

Meanwhile, V’landys openly admitted to the challenges of his role, expressing both the exhilarating highs and the daunting lows of steering the NRL – and said he’s no certainty to see out the three-year extension as Chair that was confirmed at the AGM.

“It’s hard,” V’landys said.

“It’s a pressure role, there’s no doubt. There are days where I’ve wanted to chuck it all in.

“I’m only human. Some days I think to myself, why the hell am I doing this? Why am I putting my family through this?

“But other days when you see the positive results, you are glad you are doing it. I love helping and representing the fans.

“This job is the greatest rollercoaster ride you can ever be on. One day you are on top of the world and looking at the game and thinking how good is this?

“And then the next day something bad happens and you are in the basement thinking how do we get ourselves out of this?”

Fellow commissioners Megan Davis and Kate Jones also had their tenures extended for a further three years on Wednesday.

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