Off the Wall

In the Sydney Morning Herald today Roy Masters comprehensively outlines the enormous advantage the NRL has over the AFL when it comes to television viewing numbers.

The NRL's cumulative viewing numbers for the year was 128 million - the AFL's 113 million.

Pay numbers for the NRL were 33 million - the AFL's 19 million.

Of the top 100 programmes of the year on Foxtel, the NRL had 68, the AFL 12.

These figures are made even more impressive by the fact it does not have the rights to the live telecasts of origin (3 games a year) the finals series (9 games a year) and tests (at least 2 games a year).

If Foxtel shared the rights to the representative matches one can only imagine just how much more pronounced the NRL advantage over the AFL would be!

That's the good news. Now for the bad news!

In 2012, the NRL will receive $42 million from Foxtel for the games it has the right to cover. In the same year, the AFL will receive $130 million from Foxtel.

True, that is the first year of the new AFL contract with its television rights holders.

But when you look at such a glaring difference, it shows just how bad our current deal is.

The ambit claim from the 16 NRL clubs for a couple of million more (each) next year remains something of a mystery.

But I suspect it is partly meant to be a warning shot from the clubs that they expect the new independent commission (remember that?) to deliver a television deal that in tot al is about DOUBLE the current one.

The figures I have summarised, and which Roy Masters goers into much more detail on are compelling. Perhaps the clubs are reminding the NRL just how compelling?

There is also undoubtedly another factor in the claim.

What it does is that below the surface of what appears to be a growing, prosperous code is a club base that is in dire financial straits.

This year 14 of the 16 clubs are likely to record a net loss. With poker machine controls - in one form or other - the financial position is hardly likely to improve soon.

And we also now know that four clubs need a "cash advance" from the NRL in a matter of weeks to meet their commitments.

There won't be a breakaway movement. But clearly there is a lot of unhappiness in the clubs.
But when you look at the television stats today, surely we need the IC up and running now so that television negotiations to get a better deal can start without more delay?