‘New ARU tv deal to benefit all’ – Pulver

Date published: December 17 2015

Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver said the revenue from the new AUS$285 million broadcast deal would filter down to all levels of rugby in Australia.

Under the ARU 2016/2020 broadcast deal announced on Thursday, Network Ten will broadcast the June Series, Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Tests.

For the first time since the competition’s inception, a Super Rugby match of the round replay will be on Sunday mornings while a one-hour highlights show will become a regular free-to-air feature on Monday nights.

This free-to-air coverage is on top of that of Fox Sports, which will feature Wallabies Tests, Super Rugby, Sevens and the Buildcorp NRC live.

Pulver was frank about the financial state of Australian provinces, committing $10 million a year over the next five years to help improve their positions.

“Happy (about their finances) would be an overstatement,” he said.

“We have some work to do there.

“The key beneficiaries of this will be the Super Rugby clubs.

“They have been the recipients of slow declines in their funding in recent years and we need to direct that to them.

“Super Rugby is an enormously important part of the high performance part of our game.

“So we’ll look forward to working with them to really stabilise their financial situation as well.”

While further details around broader funding will be released with the ARU’s strategic plan in the new year, Pulver promised to use the annual $57 million windfall to double the funding into community rugby.

Pulver was not concerned about the figure being compared to other broadcast deals announced this year, with both NRL and AFL deals in the billions.

“Anything with a ‘B’ in front of it is clearly tempting but we are very, very happy with our relative meagre pickings to achieve 148 per cent growth in revenue from a broadcast outcome,” he added.

“I suspect it is the largest increase of any code. It reflects, I think, the growing status we enjoy in the sporting landscape.

“I’m confident that trend will continue.

“It’s not for us to try and match those codes in terms of broadcast value, it’s up to us to get the right growth that we need for the growth of our game.”

Pulver said he hoped the new deal would encourage the next generation to pick up the game, while also helping maintain the optimism around elite sides.

“One of our major focuses is to expand young boys and girls starting to play rugby today,” he said.

“We’ve got some wonderful platforms to do that, not only through the traditional 15s side of the game, but Sevens is growing very rapidly.

“The World Cup was a wonderful reflection of how important the elite aspect of the game is.

“We’ve got a terrific year in ‘16 coming up and plenty of opportunity to see the Wallabies, plenty of opportunity to see our Men’s and Women’s Sevens teams so high performance outcomes will be another beneficial element.”

Network Ten CEO Paul Anderson said the network felt it played a critical role in helping to grow Rugby to a wider audience.

“This is our major winter code,” he said.

“We have a great team, we have our own look and feel from a free-to-air perspective but also we broadcast to 100 per cent of the population.

“We’ve got a blueprint that we use with some other sports that we share with FOX SPORTS which broadens that coverage to pretty much everyone in Australia.

“We talk about expanding the fan base and we’re a critical piece of that.”

Fox Sports CEO Patrick Delaney said the education aspect was critical in 2016, saying the network would build on initiatives introduced this year, off the back of Australia’s World Cup run.

“Things like scrums, lineouts and rucks and mauls are where you get the contention of the ball – that makes this game unique,” he explained.

“So I think, if we do anything, the innovation is going to be in and around that…getting people inside scrums, not literally,  but for them to understand.

“We started doing that in the second Bledisloe and we saw it with the use of spidercam in the World Cup.

“I think people became very cognizant of the pilfering idea because we became good at it in rucks and mauls.

“We’ve got the fanatics and we know the fanatics will stick real hard.

“The goal that we have is to broaden the fan base and expand into those who love sport to understand and love rugby too.”