SARU secures big TV deal
Johannesburg - SANZAR on Thursday confirmed new broadcast rights agreements for professional rugby competitions across Australia, New Zealand and South Africa over the five-year period from 2011 to 2015.
SANZAR has concluded agreements with SuperSport (Africa), Fox Sports (Australia) and SKY Television (New Zealand), and has reached a heads of agreements for the UK market and is awaiting finalization for the British and Irish Lions tour rights in 2013. Together these represent a significant jump in value on the existing arrangements.
The new agreement is valued at $437 million which is a 35 percent increase on the comparable components of the current five-year agreement which were valued at $323 million.
Agreements for additional territories such as France, North America and Asia are still under negotiation and will add to this total.
The agreements confirmed today reflect a significant growth in the value of core SANZAR competitions and deliver material increases for each of the South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby Unions.
Current SANZAR and NZRU CEO Steve Tew said the agreements reached with Supersport, SKY Television and Fox Sports represent a major vote of confidence in southern hemisphere rugby.
“We believe that rugby is in good health and that its appeal remains strong both in terms of participation and in terms of the interest of our fans across South Africa, New Zealand and Australia,” he said.
“This agreement underlines that and helps secure the new competitions and deliver them in all three countries and also, importantly, supports the game’s funding which allows all three Unions to continue to develop rugby through our investment in the community and amateur game and the retention of our best players and coaches.”
The new agreements continue the evolution of SANZAR’s broadcasting rights following the original, landmark 10-year agreement which helped launch professional rugby in the southern hemisphere from 1996–2005, and the current five-year agreement which will expire at the end of 2010.
The new agreements have been structured in a different manner to the two earlier broadcasting packages with SANZAR signing directly with broadcasters in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
The new deals compare favourably with the existing agreement – struck with News Limited and SuperSport – for 2006-2010, and the initial 10-year SANZAR rights agreement in place from 1996.
Meanwhile, the proposed changes to the two marquee SANZAR competitions are already well underway.
Melbourne has been confirmed as the 15th Super Rugby Franchise from 2011 in a new conference-based competition.
Progress continues too on plans to include Argentina in a new Four Nations (currently Tri-Nations) competition from 2012.
Tew said the competition changes herald significant new appeal to rugby fans.
Market research undertaken in the SANZAR territories indicates fans place increased importance on local derby contests – which will be enhanced in the new Super Rugby competition – and support the potential evolution of the Tri Nations with the inclusion of Argentina, the third placed nation at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Australian Rugby Union Managing Director and CEO John O’Neill said 2011 would be a transforming season for the game across the SANZAR territories.
“This new broadcasting agreement, coupled with the exciting changes to take effect in Super Rugby next year, presents an opportunity for SANZAR to further enhance the popularity, profile and public support for the code,” he said.
“The implementation of a new and unique Conference format is ground-breaking and it will deliver more compelling Super Rugby on a more frequent basis in each of the three countries. The ‘local derbies’ concept is one that inspires a sense of tribalism and internal rivalry in each country and we will further capitalise on that through playing those matches on a home and away basis.
“These are encouraging times for the game. We came through a difficult financial period that affected sports and businesses across the globe and have subsequently emerged with a superior broadcast deal to the previous two in place from 1996 and 2006.”
Andy Marinos, who represented SARU in discussions as acting managing director of SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd, said: “We’ve reached what is a very good long term deal for SANZAR in what was a difficult economic climate when negotiations started.
“A more sophisticated approach to the allocation of rights as well as the retention of archive rights was achieved to ensure additional value for SANZAR on which to grow and expand the SANZAR competitions.
“We expect to achieve material increases across all territories and this deal will ensure that rugby continues to grow and proposer and sustain our wish that SANZAR remains the dominant force in world rugby while the inclusion of Argentina also signals our intent to continually expand and develop our competition structures.”