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NRL to ditch digital arm

NRL scales back digital arm following broadcaster pressure​

By Zoe Samios

October 6, 2021 — 3.53pm

The National Rugby League has bowed to pressure from its media partners and decided to scale down its digital content arm in a move that is expected to result in several redundancies at the organisation.

The shift, led by the NRL’s recently appointed chief customer and digital officer Alexi Baker, is part of an ongoing effort to streamline operations at the NRL to save costs and better serve fans. But it will also be considered a win for the company’s two media partners - Nine Entertainment Co and News Corp Foxtel - which have long expressed frustration about the division and argue the NRL’s own website competes with their digital properties.

Staff at the NRL were informed about the change on Wednesday afternoon and about 10 redundancies are expected to take place over the next few weeks. Staff who appeared at the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were not given the opportunity to ask questions.

Under the plans the NRL will move away from creating news-focused content and work more closely with Nine (which is the owner of this masthead) and News Corp-controlled Foxtel on joint projects. The NRL website will mainly feature highlights and short-form videos that entertain fans instead of breaking news. The NRL was approached for comment but did not respond by deadline.

The NRL Digital Network officially launched in 2018 after the organisation took control of its digital assets from Telstra, an arrangement formed under the terms of its $1 billion broadcasting rights deal with Nine and Foxtel. The deal was a significant change in strategy for the NRL and involved the clubs investing money in digital rather than outsourcing it to media partners.

The network is currently made up of five parts including NRL.com, and sites and apps for the competition’s 16 teams. As of last year, the digital unit employed about 80 staff, including a product and technology arm with designers, developers and engineers who ensure the digital products work for fans. It has a media services division which handles game archives and images taken at matches, digital marketing and social media, a data and insights team, and employs about eight journalists who cover matches and interview players and coaches.

This is the first major change for NRL digital division since the arrival of Ms Baker (who previously led negotiations at Nine), who has undertaken a review of the organisation’s media arm. In late August, the NRL notified high-profile ex players and coaches such as Jamie Soward, Brett Kimmorley, Anthony Seibold and Robbie Farah that the website would no longer feature panel shows.

The restructure comes as the NRL prepares to propose the Redcliffe Dolphins as the expansion team for 2023 after agreeing to a deal with News Corp to inject at least $75 million into the sport over five years. Sources with knowledge of discussions told the Herald earlier this week that the NRL is providing the News Corp-owned Brisbane Broncos will an increase in exclusive matches, which will ultimately reduce the number of free-to-air games.

The NRL is presenting to the 16 clubs on Thursday and will provide them with details on how they plan to finance a 17th team. Any savings generated by the NRL could help with the justification of a new team.

NRL scales back digital arm following broadcaster pressure (smh.com.au)
 

Front-Rower

First Grade
Messages
5,088
Digital revenue has gone from less than $3million in 2013 to $24million in 2019.
So? Revenue in this context is a meaningless figure. What was it costing the NRL in terms of production costs, staffing, web hosting, missed revenue from media outlets?
 

Iamback

First Grade
Messages
6,816
So? Revenue in this context is a meaningless figure. What was it costing the NRL in terms of production costs, staffing, web hosting, missed revenue from media outlets?

NRL made a profit
AFL lost $43m

Hard to argue with this stuff being good for the game short term. Maybe in 5 years you re visit it
 

The Partisan

Guest
Messages
1,852
Mmmmm.......well this explains why I can't find theNRL website shows Inside the NRL and NRL teams. Two RL programs I genuinely enjoyed. 😐
 

Knight76

Juniors
Messages
2,009
NRL made a profit
AFL lost $43m

Hard to argue with this stuff being good for the game short term. Maybe in 5 years you re visit it

I just went to the site to see if game replays were still there and yep, I would have thought those would have been high on the hit list for Fox with it's Kayo service.

I am sure there are plenty of people who save money on Fox/Kayo, watch the FTA games and catch whatever other game interests them through nrl.com replay.

The NRL should not be giving something up for nothing in return. Thats not negotiation or smart business strategy at all.

At the very least, negotiation should have included a commitment from 9 and fox that they will promote the game more favourably.

The NRL should just cover areas of the game that are not in competition with media partners, you know, all those good news stories about players doing kind things, and donating their time to charities etc that media partners aren't interested in.'
 

Iamback

First Grade
Messages
6,816
I just went to the site to see if game replays were still there and yep, I would have thought those would have been high on the hit list for Fox with it's Kayo service.

I am sure there are plenty of people who save money on Fox/Kayo, watch the FTA games and catch whatever other game interests them through nrl.com replay.

The NRL should not be giving something up for nothing in return. Thats not negotiation or smart business strategy at all.

At the very least, negotiation should have included a commitment from 9 and fox that they will promote the game more favourably.

The NRL should just cover areas of the game that are not in competition with media partners, you know, all those good news stories about players doing kind things, and donating their time to charities etc that media partners aren't interested in.'

Yeah all the basics are still covered.

As for Fox/9 promotion. I guess we see how it plays out across the year
 

Perth Red

Post Whore
Messages
51,193
I just went to the site to see if game replays were still there and yep, I would have thought those would have been high on the hit list for Fox with it's Kayo service.

I am sure there are plenty of people who save money on Fox/Kayo, watch the FTA games and catch whatever other game interests them through nrl.com replay.

The NRL should not be giving something up for nothing in return. Thats not negotiation or smart business strategy at all.

At the very least, negotiation should have included a commitment from 9 and fox that they will promote the game more favourably.

The NRL should just cover areas of the game that are not in competition with media partners, you know, all those good news stories about players doing kind things, and donating their time to charities etc that media partners aren't interested in.'
Gave up digital media arm and free Telstra streaming, for $100mill less from Fox and $25million contra from Nine. Cracking deal lol

As for NRl.com news content now, theres virtually no real rugby league news anymore, its reposts from club websites or team/player updates/team lists etc or historic rehashes. Out of the first 40 stories on the news section of NRL.com only two of them are actually game news and they both relate to the recent NRLW announcement. Fine if you want to read about other clubs players but that doesnt drive social media traffic to the site I suspect.
 
Last edited:
Messages
3,000
Gave up digital media arm and free Telstra streaming, for $100mill less from Fox and $25million contra from Nine. Cracking deal lol

As for NRl.com news content now, theres virtually no real rugby league news anymore, its reposts from club websites or team/player updates/team lists etc or historic rehashes. Out of the first 40 stories on the news section of NRL.com only two of them are actually game news and they both relate to the recent NRLW announcement. Fine if you want to read about other clubs players but that doesnt drive social media traffic to the site I suspect.
file-20191114-26273-4r0nva.jpg
 

bileduct

Coach
Messages
17,791
I noticed today the official NRL: channel on Youtube is now putting up full match replays. Seems to be a new thing.


Pretty f**kin' annoyed they prioritise the Channel 9 coverage over Fox Sports.
 

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