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Current as of 21/11/14 07:40PM NZST

John Drinnan

Media writer for the New Zealand Herald

Sky TV league talks unresolved as kickoff looms

Old foes the Roosters and Rabbitohs open the 2013 NRL season tomorrow, but Sky has yet to sign a broadcast deal with the NRL.  Photo / Getty Images
Old foes the Roosters and Rabbitohs open the 2013 NRL season tomorrow, but Sky has yet to sign a broadcast deal with the NRL. Photo / Getty Images

Sky TV negotiators were this morning still in talks for rights with the NRL body - on the eve of the 2013 league season kickoff.

The season is due to start tomorrow with a game between the Roosters and The Rabbitohs.

Sky Sports director Richard Last said today that Sky assumed there was another bidder involved.

"Nobody would tell us if we were, but we assume that is the case," Last said.

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said the broadcaster "preferred not to comment" on whether it was bidding for the rights.

Indications are that the replay rights that have been broadcast by Sky-owned Prime TV are a key part of the issues between Sky and the NRL negotiators.

Last said Sky knew it had to do all it could for fans and subscribers to get the rights.

"It's an ongoing negotiation and we are still hopeful it will get sorted," he said.

This morning, Sky had presented amendments which were being passed between them, he said.

However, Last declined to define the negotiations as being down to the final detail. Sky was hopeful yesterday it would have a deal signed last night or this morning, but nothing had been settled by 11 am.

It is understood that the NRL is demanding a big increase in the price of five years rights in line with those charged for Australian rights to Foxtel and the Nine Network.

That led to an increase in the price charged for the sports package, balanced by a reduction for movies.

Sky is resisting the increase, but would face an exodus of sports subscribers if it lost rights to the league. Delayed broadcasts have a limited audience and because they run late at night, they do not attract advertising revenue.

If there is another bidder it raises the question whether TV3 and TVNZ would be interested. It is understood the NRL competition is seeking a much bigger payment per season than the $14 million estimated last year. Sky chief executive John Fellet has said he is resisting anything that would hurt profits like the costs for the Summer Olympics did.

After a one - year deal in 2012, Sky has been negotiating for five-year rights that would run concurrently with a five year deal for Australia's Fox Network and Channel Nine.


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