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Backlash on NRL broadcasting

Saturday, 21st March, 2015

By Patrick Reincke

This season, NRL matches are not being broadcast live every weekend, which has led to an outcry from fans.

Instead of being broadcast live, Channel 9 will show delayed versions of the games at midnight on sister channel, GEM.

The NRL broadcast agreement stipulates Channel 9 has the rights to the Friday night and Sunday afternoon games, with Foxtel broadcasting the Saturday night matches.

With Broken Hill receiving its TV Network feeds from Adelaide, which is not necessarily a Rugby League state, Former President of the Outback Rugby League, David Gallagher said that a petition for Nine and the NRL to start broadcasting games live into Adelaide has been organised and distributed around Broken Hill with a rally set to be held just after the election.

“We are going all out this time,” Gallagher said.

“People get behind a good cause, and that’s what Broken Hill is all about.”

The rally would take place in the town square with families, juniors and Outback Rugby League players all set to be involved.

In previous years, a petition has worked as a catalyst to something bigger and ultimately resulted in live matches being broadcast in Broken Hill.

A Facebook page entitled “Bring back the NRL on Gem” has been up and running for some time with just over 700 members joining.

“People in Broken Hill are very passionate about their sport,” Gallagher said.

“There is a very, very strong Rugby league base here.”

Last year’s NRL Grand Final between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs was the most-watched club game in the history of rugby league.

The State of Origin series remains a highly watched rugby event every year.

Despite the incredible viewership of these events, the NRL finals and State of Origin series may not be broadcast live either.

“It’s ludicrous,” he said.

Nine has the rights to broadcast the NRL finals ahead of Foxtel, who would delay the broadcast.

But it still seems like Broken Hill won’t receive the finals as they happen.

“Everyone is entitled to watch something that they like,” Gallagher said.

“Some people cannot afford Foxtel.”

The only other way to watch live NRL is to pay to stream games through a mobile app.

Otherwise, staying up till 1am to watch the delays is the only option.

“All we are asking for is a fair go.”

GEM’s Friday night 7.30pm timeslot would likely be filled with lacklustre films which would not draw as many viewers as a live NRL match.

“It’s not just about the older guys, it’s about the juniors watching the game and having a go.

“It’s about being a part of your team.

“Juniors can watch their idols pass and try and emulate them.” 

Channel 9 Port Pirie’s Production Manager, John Cutting, said the decision was not taken lightly.

“It’s the decision of Channel 9 Adelaide and we follow their lines out of SA,” he said.

“It’s not an ideal decision that has been made, but unfortunately, that’s the reality of the situation.”

In the past Nine has changed their setup to allow live broadcasts into Broken Hill, and Gallagher begs the question:

“They’ve done it last year, why can’t they do it this year?”

“If we have to personally take it to (Channel 9) Port Pirie, we will.”

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