On the day of the Grand Final between Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons RL Commercial and Sky Sports announced an exciting development.
This is because the two parties finally agreed a deal to continue Sky Sports’ coverage of our great sport beyond the 2023 season.
The previous contract expired at the end of 2023 alongside Channel 4 and Viaplay’s contracts with the sport whilst BBC’s contract expires in 2024.
There was interest by DAZN Sports as well TNT Sports, previously known as BT Sports, in the rights to Super League but in the end Sky Sports’ deal was the best.
This is despite a minor reduction in funding from previous years with the deal dropping down to just above £20 million. This has impacted some team’s ability to spend ahead of 2024 with both Salford Red Devils and Castleford Tigers both confirmed as being unable to afford to spend the full cap after this development.
But in a major win for the sport, it was confirmed that despite the smaller financial reward, Sky Sports will be showing every game in 2024 and beyond.
However, this raises the question of how this will be achieved. Serious About Rugby League asked the RFL and were told: “Fixture and broadcast announcements will be made in due course and in conjunction with relevant parties such as clubs and broadcast partners.”
We know that there are plans in place for an OTT which is a form of streaming service but it is unclear what all of this means for kick off times.
If every game is shown individually it would require staggered kick-off times like in the NRL but if not we could see games played at the same time with this streaming service used to give fans access to the games they want but this would harm overall viewing figures which are essential to IMG grades.
If staggered what would this look like? Well you would imagine we would continue to have a Thursday night game as well as a Friday night game both kicking off at 20:00.
It would be hard to arrange a second fixture on a Friday night so this would leave four fixtures for Saturday and Sunday which would likely have two fixtures each with kick-off times at 12:30, 15:00 or 17:30 akin to the Premier League.