TV Rights & Gallop Well if our friend David Gallop cannot extract a significant increase in broadcast rights then he & News Ltd should be driven from our game forever. The NRL now outrates the AFL nationally surely that is a bargaining chip that can see the NRL at least match any AFL rights deal.Â Additionally it should put to bed any suggestion that expansion is the only way to increase the codes value. Sydney tunes in and turns on to NRL as AFL drops out GLENN JACKSON AND ROY MASTERS December 22, 2009 RUGBY LEAGUE has become the sporting equivalent of a train wreck; while it can be horrific off the field, on the field it has proved impossible for Sydney viewers to look away. Nearing the end of a year in which the code has tested the patience of punters and administrators with a litany of off-field misdemeanours, capped by the arrest on drugs charges of Newcastle prop Danny Wicks last week, comes potentially the greatest sign that the game is more popular than ever; for the first time ever, it has outrated AFL nationally. In 2009, rugby league claimed an aggregate television audience on free-to-air and pay-TV of 128.5 million compared to AFL's 124.3 million. The figures take into account all fixtures televised, including rugby league's State of Origin series as well as the AFL's pre-season NAB Cup. And much of the damage was done in Sydney. Despite an annus-horribilis off the field, league attracted a 12 per cent increase in viewers in Sydney, helped no doubt by the success of Parramatta last season. And alarmingly for the AFL, and its expansion franchise in the city's west, there was a 19.5 per cent ratings drop in Sydney over 2009, as the Swans struggled. The figures come on the back of another sorry saga for the NRL; the drug-supply allegations against one of its players, which will mean the code will finish the year as it started it, in controversy. The league players' union has weighed in, urging police to name names quickly after revelations that more Newcastle players could be charged. And senior Knights players say they have nothing to hide, declaring they want to be drug-tested at any place and any time to prove it.