Big pay rises likely for New Zealand professionals as renewed broadcast agreement grows by $70m a year.

New Zealand's professional players are close to finalising a new collective contract that will see pay scales increase dramatically as a result of a renewed broadcast deal believed to be worth close to $70 million a year.

Details of the previous broadcast agreement - between 2011 and 2015 - have never been revealed but it is estimated that the new deal could be a 60 per cent increase.

New Zealand's professional players will benefit directly from that as they are entitled to about 37 per cent of all the revenue they are deemed to directly generate.

Negotiations between New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association about an improved collective agreement are expected to end shortly.


It is believed that the outcome will see significantly improved minimum payments for provincial and Super Rugby players and more money pumped into sevens and the women's game.

Senior players expect a retainer of between $400,000 to $800,000 a year, but it is likely the best, such as Kieran Read, Brodie Retallick and Julian Savea, will now be able to command more.

The numbers

• $350m five-year broadcast deal.
• 60% increase on previous deal.
• 37% players' share of the revenue.
• 30% increase in funding to provincial unions.

This massive rise has come about because Sky TV, facing genuine competition for the first time in the professional era, had to put a massive premium on the table to renew its broadcast rights for Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship.

New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew has hinted in previous weeks that a significant increase had been agreed but details of how much money is now flooding into the game have emerged.

The Australian Rugby Union, which is not bound by any confidentiality agreement, revealed it will bank A$285 million over the next five years under the new contract.

According to their chief executive Bill Pulver, that represents a 148 per cent increase on the previous agreement between 2011 and 2015. Pulver says the new five-year deal will put an extra $170 million of income into Australian coffers.

The Herald understands the picture is even healthier on this side of the Tasman.

The long-serving Sanzaar partners - Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - split their core broadcast income equally. There are opt out components, however, such as respective domestic competitions that can be sold separately.

Australia doesn't have an established domestic competition so the $285 million it is being paid is largely for Super Rugby, Rugby Championship and domestic tests.

New Zealand and South Africa, however, also have respectively the Mitre 10 Cup and Currie Cup - both of which are viewed as high value assets.

Again, it is believed that NZ Rugby was able to sell both domestic and offshore rights to the national provincial championship for a significant lift on the previous deal.

An indication of the improved financial health was given last month when it was revealed that NZR will increase funding to all provincial unions by at least 30 per cent between now and 2020, at a cost of about $9 million per year.

Tew said: "The funding will help put unions on a firmer financial footing."