Off the Wall

Last night's Origin game brought out the very best in Origin football - and our great game.

It could not have been a better timed exposition of the very best of what we have to offer - the television executives in negotiation with the ARLC over the next television rights agreement could hardly have been more impressed.

The best team on the night won - and deserved to win. Yet the Maroons were in the contest right to the end.

The third and deciding game in Brisbane in three weeks will surely be the most watched program on television this year.

I went to bed thinking a one billion dollar five year deal would surely be a minimum.....surely the rights to the Origin series ought to tip in a fair proportion of that alone?

This morning I got a real reality check when it comes to the "worth" of television sporting rights.

I turned on SKY UK to learn that the Premier League - soccer's main competition in England - had just concluded its next three year rights agreement. BSkyB kept its dominant role, but telecoms giant BT ending the involvement of ESPN in covering the Premier League.

The deal is, in monetary, terms truly staggering. The annual payments from BSkyB and BT to the Premier League will be in the region of $1.4 billion.......a rise of around 70 per cent on the current three year agreement.

This will deliver into the bank accounts of each Premier League club an estimated EXTRA  $19 million a year......something the majority desperately need. The bottom club will receive around $80 million a year!

This deal does not include the international rights - which will be negotiated later this year. They are now likely to bring in several billion more.

All up the Premier League is likely to get something like $2.5 to $3 billion a year!

It really puts what we are seeking in context. We are going to get in five years less than half what the Premier League will get annually!

I know the market place is massively greater - and soccer has dominance that we could only dream of.

But what is significant about the Premier League deal is that the new player, BT will be focussing on "new media"......using a variety of platforms, and especially high speed broadband.

For the exclusive rights to just 32 games a season, BT is paying around $300 million a year!

When I was in the UK recently - just after the end of the Premier League competition - I was amazed that the dominance in the print and other media of soccer.

Rugby league, which is in the second half of its premiership, is significantly less relevant than when I was last in the UK. It just does not rate nationwide.

The point about the deal soccer has achieved that i find most interesting is the huge fee it is getting from "new media"......through BT.

The AFL deal seems to have delivered something like $150 million over FIVE years from new media. hardly enough?

One thing the NRL has done is be the pacesetter in new media....driven by the Acting CEO, Shane Matisse.

That may offer us the real hope that even if the prevailing financial climate in the television industry is unhelpful, the new media opportunities might just get us over the magical $1 billion mark.

And surely the "state" of State of Origin football will guarantee it?

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