CHANNEL 9 has launched a $1billion bid to retain NRL TV rights but with a catch _ time-outs during games for commercial breaks, and live Thursday night football
Nine boss David Gyngell and network CEO Jeff Browne will deliver their bid to the NRL's independent commission on Monday. It includes:
*INCREASING the overall time of a game from 90 to 95 minutes;
*HALF-TIME extended from 12 to 14 minutes to play more commercials;
*30-SECOND breaks for sideline scrum stoppages;
*30-SECOND breaks for line drop-outs;
*30-SECOND breaks between try conversions and restarts; and
*AT LEAST four games a season to be played on Thursday nights.
The radical proposal is part of a joint bid by Nine and Fox Sports that heralds the most significant changes to TV sport since Kerry Packer launched night cricket and reduced eight-ball overs to six, specifically to sell extra advertising.
The Daily Telegraph understands the deal would allow Nine to raise an extra $35 million in annual revenue by showing up to 12 commercials during a game, twice as many as they currently offer their advertisers.
Nine's Sunday match may be broadcast live with a 4pm start, meaning at least seven of the eight games each round would be shown live.
Nine and the NRL have been working together for several months to maximise revenue without ruining the free-flowing nature of the game.
State of Origin coach Ricky Stuart, former coaches Daniel Anderson and John Lang and former players Wayne Pearce and Trent Barrett were part of a committee that agreed on areas for stopping play. Stoppages have been aimed at times when play is held up anyway.
"It takes an average 35 seconds for sideline restarts, 25 seconds for line drop-outs and 23 seconds for try restarts,'' NRL director of football Nathan McGuirk said.
"So we're not going to be radically slowing down the game with these changes.''
NRL chief executive David Gallop was reluctant to comment about finer details of talks with Nine's management.
"It's not appropriate to discuss details of our negotiations with the broadcasters,'' Mr Gallop said.
"We are looking at ways to maximise value for broadcasters with ad breaks at appropriate times while maintaining the continuity and physical nature of the game.''
The addition of six 30-second commercials is the only way Nine believes it can make a return from its vastly increased $1 billion rights contract without slugging advertisers.
Nine currently charges $50,000 for 30-second commercials on the top-rating Friday night football games, making $300,000 during live play.
Under the new deal, that would double to $600,000, on top of pre-game, half-time and post-game ad-breaks.
Taking into account Origin and finals, the breaks in play could deliver Nine an extra $40 million a year in advertising.