2023 is a big year for rugby league and not just because of IMG’s involvement in the sport’s future but because the broadcast deals with Sky Sports, Channel 4 and Viaplay all expire this year.
It was recently confirmed that other players are in the market for the rights to Super League but now IMG have explained why it will take a long time for a broadcast deal to be decided.
Matt Dwyer of IMG said on 5 Live: “The challenge in the market at the moment is that the EFL rights, so the football league rights, are in the market at the moment.
“Most of the main players in the broadcast market, in the UK, are all looking at that in various degrees.
“That was meant to be finished pre-Christmas and it’s not. The indications we have are it’ll be finished this month.
“But for most broadcasters the feedback is that they need to get that sorted, then they’ll turn to rugby league discussions.
“In the background we’ve been doing a lot of work with Sky in terms of helping them understand our vision, and what we’re trying to do with the sport.
“We’re also speaking to the other broadcasters in the market as well and getting them up to speed as to what the plans are for this sport and why we think it has a great future, and should be something they’re looking at as part of their portfolio.”
Now Warrington Wolves CEO Karl Fitzpatrick has now weighed in on the TV deal saying that more clubs need to become Grade A clubs in order to to secure a strong TV deal:
“Once we starting ticking those boxes on the criteria and we have a number of teams in that class A category, then we’ll become more appealing as a sport and a more attractive proposition.
“If you compare ourselves to football then it’s pretty difficult. But compare us to rugby union, I would say our figures stand up or in fact surpass rugby union and if you go back 10 years there figures may have been bigger.
“What you’ve got now though is kids have more things to do in terms of gaming and things of that nature so the market is a lot more competitive than say 10 years ago.”
He also said that the sport needs to become more relevant:
“We need to become more relevant. We need to become more relevant as a sport.
“We need to be appearing in media publications, we need to be on platforms speaking a language that those people understand and that’s what we need to be.”