What's new
The Front Row Forums

Register a free account today to become a member of the world's largest Rugby League discussion forum! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

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)
 

Perth Red

Immortal
Messages
44,502
From what we know, which isn’t the full picture

1. revenue
2014 $5mill
2015 $4.9mill
2016 $5.8mill
2017 $6.6mill
2018 $23.6mill
2019 $24.5mill

Sadly in 2020 vlandys abandoned revenue transparency and buried digital revenue along with media revenue in a combined line item with other areas.

Expenditure
harder this one as it has never sat as a separate line item and is contained within the event, game and expenditure item.

2018 saw an increase on digital spend of $7.2million (leading to an increase in revenue for the Year Of $17mill)

i guess the valuations quoted are future forecasting where the digital arm could head to next. The revenue increase has been very impressive in ashort period of time and hard to know what the ceiling is for it.

2. yes afl does. Called afl media it employs around 100 full time staff inc 22 journalists. They don’t report their digital revenue separately and couldn’t find any reference to what it earns.

3. unlikely in the near future but in ten plus years time quite possible. Advertising would cover cost of production comfortably then it would need either it’s own subscriber base that could increase overall revenue, or it would be able to splice and dice the content and sell to different streaming companies. the advantage of owning content is the market becomes much bigger in terms of selling to different major global streaming services.

good questions. Is there the subscriber base, is there the market interest for streaming already produced content, how do you maximise digital revenue from a customer base heading towards 2 million people?
 
Last edited:

LeagueXIII

First Grade
Messages
5,587
If AFL has it's own digital arm why not the aggression from the media partners to shut it down like what happened with the NRL? Or are we just easier to push around or does News have their man to make change in their favour.
 

Perth Red

Immortal
Messages
44,502
If AFL has it's own digital arm why not the aggression from the media partners to shut it down like what happened with the NRL? Or are we just easier to push around or does News have their man to make change in their favour.
Because they own and control their game, where as media controls ours. We always seem to be coming from a point of weakness compared to them. I’ve no doubt the abandoning of the news aspect of the digital arm (not just nrl.com but every club website as well) was tied up with getting fox to pay for expansion. Just like the agreement to go with Redcliffe which allegedly was news ltds preferred choice of club to minimise impact on broncos. We see no value in our content so have to offer something extra. Pretty sad really.
 
Messages
206
From what we know, which isn’t the full picture

1. revenue
2014 $5mill
2015 $4.9mill
2016 $5.8mill
2017 $6.6mill
2018 $23.6mill
2019 $24.5mill

Sadly in 2020 vlandys abandoned revenue transparency and buried digital revenue along with media revenue in a combined line item with other areas.

Expenditure
harder this one as it has never sat as a separate line item and is contained within the event, game and expenditure item.

2018 saw an increase on digital spend of $7.2million (leading to an increase in revenue for the Year Of $17mill)

i guess the valuations quoted are future forecasting where the digital arm could head to next. The revenue increase has been very impressive in ashort period of time and hard to know what the ceiling is for it.

2. yes afl does. Called afl media it employs around 100 full time staff inc 22 journalists. They don’t report their digital revenue separately and couldn’t find any reference to what it earns.

3. unlikely in the near future but in ten plus years time quite possible. Advertising would cover cost of production comfortably then it would need either it’s own subscriber base that could increase overall revenue, or it would be able to splice and dice the content and sell to different streaming companies. the advantage of owning content is the market becomes much bigger in terms of selling to different major global streaming services.

good questions. Is there the subscriber base, is there the market interest for streaming already produced content, how do you maximise digital revenue from a customer base heading towards 2 million people?
Many thanks, PR. Super helpful. Now I understand what a roart it is. It revenue has grown by almost 500% in 6 years it beggars belief that the NRL want to shut it down.

We really seem to be on the backfoot when compared to the AFL. They are buying land and stadiums, when we are lobbying government for small upgrades. They have a media unit, that we are shutting down. They are expanding into new areas, whereas we are expanding into safe heartlands.
 

Iamback

Juniors
Messages
342
If AFL has it's own digital arm why not the aggression from the media partners to shut it down like what happened with the NRL? Or are we just easier to push around or does News have their man to make change in their favour.

How much original content does the AFL version have?
 

Perth Red

Immortal
Messages
44,502
So the NRL website will get less visits if this decision goes ahead?
Probably and club websites in all likelihood. We wont get NRL generated news stories feeding the website from its social media arms. All we will get is directions to Nine or News Ltd paywall stories.
 

Iamback

Juniors
Messages
342
Probably and club websites in all likelihood. We wont get NRL generated news stories feeding the website from its social media arms. All we will get is directions to Nine or News Ltd paywall stories.

So club websites had no content when clubs ran them?
 

Perth Red

Immortal
Messages
44,502
How much original content does the AFL version have?
A shed load. Bearing in mind it is the off season it has 2 live shows, 1 podcast and 9 news stories all posted in the last 24 hours.

Compare that to the new look NRL.com where on a massive news day for the game it has 5 stories (3 on same thing) and a live presser.
 

Iamback

Juniors
Messages
342
They didnt have 2-3 breaking news stories a day. And yeh some of them were pretty shocking with very little daily generated content.

Their twitter feeds all seem to have new exclusive stuff. Put that all together you have a decent website
 

Perth Red

Immortal
Messages
44,502
Their twitter feeds all seem to have new exclusive stuff. Put that all together you have a decent website
Yes because it is generated by the NRL's digital arm, or at least was until the 10 journos who put them stories together were sacked.
 

LeagueXIII

First Grade
Messages
5,587
How much original content does the AFL version have?
This from Wikipedia:

AFL Media provides content for a range of digital products including AFL.com.au and the 18 clubs' official websites, the AFL Live mobile app and the various social media channels operated by the AFL on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.[1] It also produces a range of podcasts and online videos analysing various aspects of the AFL, as well as operating the league's photography and film departments: AFL Photos and AFL Films, respectively.[1][15]

It has been speculated that AFL Media could potentially control the broadcast of AFL games in future broadcasting agreements, and either directly sell to audiences itself or on-sell the content to free-to-air and subscription television networks
 

colly

Juniors
Messages
765
This from Wikipedia:

AFL Media provides content for a range of digital products including AFL.com.au and the 18 clubs' official websites, the AFL Live mobile app and the various social media channels operated by the AFL on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.[1] It also produces a range of podcasts and online videos analysing various aspects of the AFL, as well as operating the league's photography and film departments: AFL Photos and AFL Films, respectively.[1][15]

It has been speculated that AFL Media could potentially control the broadcast of AFL games in future broadcasting agreements, and either directly sell to audiences itself or on-sell the content to free-to-air and subscription television networks
At the bottom of the wiki is this.

Criticism​

Due to its direct affiliation with the Australian Football League, AFL Media has received criticism from rival media outlets and journalists questioning whether it can truly provide independent coverage of the league, and that it is not just a public relations tool.[1][15] Former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas publicly reiterated this criticism in 2016, stating that AFL Media was "avoiding" reporting on several controversial issues to protect the AFL's brand.[17]

Furthermore Telstra receives the revenue from the website.

History​

Established in 2012, AFL Media provides content to AFL.com.au and the AFL Live mobile app, and formerly published the AFL Record from 2012 to 2018. Although Telstra currently holds the digital media broadcasting rights for AFL games, there is an agreement in place that allows AFL.com.au to host video content from Telstra Media.[1] Telstra also receives the advertising revenue from the website.[2] Although AFL Media is located in the same building as the AFL's headquarters in Docklands, Victoria, it employs an independent editorial and journalist team to report on the league and produce content on its various mediums.[2] see below for more

Notice the AFL tried to stiff the workers, from (2)

The AFL had tried to claim the employees were communications personnel, but the employees and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, maintained they were fully independent journalists operating the code’s suite of products which range from the match day magazine The AFL Record to its increasingly popular websites, and producing a range of video content for its own use and that of its sponsors. That position was vindicated in December’s ruling, which may ultimately end up being a boon to the credibility of the organisation.


Not bad for an organisation which has only been around for three years – founded from the unprecedented rights deal signed in mid-2012, as a way to produce compelling content for headline partner Telstra. Whilst the sites are run and maintained from the Melbourne AFL headquarters, the advertising inventory on them belongs to the telco, and technically sits under its suit of web assets.
 

Iamback

Juniors
Messages
342
At the bottom of the wiki is this.

Criticism​

Due to its direct affiliation with the Australian Football League, AFL Media has received criticism from rival media outlets and journalists questioning whether it can truly provide independent coverage of the league, and that it is not just a public relations tool.[1][15] Former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas publicly reiterated this criticism in 2016, stating that AFL Media was "avoiding" reporting on several controversial issues to protect the AFL's brand.[17]

Furthermore Telstra receives the revenue from the website.

History​

Established in 2012, AFL Media provides content to AFL.com.au and the AFL Live mobile app, and formerly published the AFL Record from 2012 to 2018. Although Telstra currently holds the digital media broadcasting rights for AFL games, there is an agreement in place that allows AFL.com.au to host video content from Telstra Media.[1] Telstra also receives the advertising revenue from the website.[2] Although AFL Media is located in the same building as the AFL's headquarters in Docklands, Victoria, it employs an independent editorial and journalist team to report on the league and produce content on its various mediums.[2] see below for more

Notice the AFL tried to stiff the workers, from (2)

The AFL had tried to claim the employees were communications personnel, but the employees and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, maintained they were fully independent journalists operating the code’s suite of products which range from the match day magazine The AFL Record to its increasingly popular websites, and producing a range of video content for its own use and that of its sponsors. That position was vindicated in December’s ruling, which may ultimately end up being a boon to the credibility of the organisation.


Not bad for an organisation which has only been around for three years – founded from the unprecedented rights deal signed in mid-2012, as a way to produce compelling content for headline partner Telstra. Whilst the sites are run and maintained from the Melbourne AFL headquarters, the advertising inventory on them belongs to the telco, and technically sits under its suit of web assets.

Good find. if there was money in it they would keep it pure and simple
 

10$ Ferret

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
519
Its a disgraceful decision and aa pandering to Ch9 and fox which does nothing to enhance the game.
We know if its on nein or fuxtel then it doesn't mean its true or official. If its reported on the NRL official site then it has some credibility.

Its just another example that the game will not grow or get any better while these media organisations have the say in what happens.

Well at least in this thread we are seeing the new ltd digital arm at work with "iamhack" trying to convince us that the decision is wonderful.
 

The_Wookie

Juniors
Messages
914
Good find. if there was money in it they would keep it pure and simple

There is money in it - its part of the rights that telstra has been paying 50m a year for - its not just the mobile broadcast rights, its also the digital rights to manage the AFL and club website network.

Telstra will also expand its visual sponsorship elements such as on-field Telstra 5G signage, and continue the development of the AFL's digital assets such as AFL.com.au, club websites and the AFL Official LIVE App. The updated sponsorship also deepens Telstra's connections to AFL Clubs and extends the agreement with the AFL Players Association that engages all listed players as ambassadors for use in social marketing campaigns and other initiatives. (https://www.afl.com.au/news/539223/statement-afl-extends-broadcast-rights-deal-with-foxtel-telstra)
 

Latest posts

Top