John Grant's baby seems to be doing well. Potential for massive growth. https://www.afr.com/companies/sport...ory-for-100m-digital-business-20180531-h10s7o Here is a more recent article from March this year regarding the digital arm, what News and Nine are after. https://www.smh.com.au/business/com...ys-backs-nrl-digital-arm-20200221-p5436u.html We shouldn't underestimate the value of this as it is the future of the game. ARLC chairman Peter V'landys backs NRL digital arm Zoe Samios March 2, 2020 — 12.00am The head of the National Rugby League's governing body says the sport will continue to grow its digital arm, cooling speculation the organisation may roll back the department or sell it to commercial partners. Peter V'landys, ARL Commission chairman, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age the NRL remains committed to its digital division and is focused on improving its offerings to promote the game and grow its fan base. The NRL has benefited from the investment in its own digital division, attracting younger audiences and helping build game awareness overseas.CREDIT:GETTY "We are focused on improving and expanding the digital services that we provide – enabling and supporting the game and the businesses of the game’s partners," Mr V'landys said. "Our digital network can help us grow our fan base, improve our engagement with fans and ensure our game is sustainable and growing." 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 Entertainment Co and Foxtel. Advertisement The deal was a significant change in strategy for the sport, and involved the NRL and its clubs investing money in digital rather than outsourcing it to media partners. The AFL has a similar arrangement in place through its division, AFL Media. Sources close to the NRL who spoke on the condition of anonymity say the NRL has been facing pressure from Foxtel, which is controlled by News Corp, and Nine, which is the owner of this masthead, over its digital operations. The media companies paid significant amounts for the broadcast rights and argue the NRL's digital network is in direct competition with their own digital offerings. The two broadcasters are in the third year of a five-year $1.8 billion deal, but chairman V'landys has promised a "better result" for the sport in the next negotiations. Last week Mr V'landys dined with Fox Corp executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch in the US, and met with Google, Facebook and Amazon, fanning speculation that talks over the next broadcast rights deal have informally begun. Nine has publicly spoken about its preference to have all broadcasting rights to a sport, including digital rights, as is the case in its deal with Tennis Australia for the Australian Open tournament. The NRL has previously had a fractious relationship with News Corp, with its papers at times critical of boss Todd Greenberg. At face value the NRL Digital Network looks like a website, NRL.com. However, the division is far more complex, made up of five parts including NRL.com, and sites and apps for the competition's 16 teams. It employs 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, and a data and insights team. It also controversially employs journalists who cover matches and interview players and coaches. National Rugby League's chief digital officer Alex Alderson, who runs the division, said it is the "cheerleader for the live game". "It is a significant investment that the game has made but we are seeing the benefits of that," Mr Alderson said of the project, which is currently being injected with $150 million over seven years. The NRL.com editorial team is small but Mr Alderson said it is one of the more important parts of the operation. “NRL.com is a critical part of what digital does ... it’s a critical part of the overall business," Mr Alderson said. "The journalists who work for us have all signed up to an editorial framework. We really emphasise fairness, accuracy, balance. What’s imperative for us is that fans trust us so that guide is what we do.” As of the end of 2019, NRL Digital Network has 1.4 million registered user accounts, well ahead of the 2022 target of 800,000. It has more than 2.8 million weekly average users a week and its biggest audience are under-18s. Club and state websites and applications also grew 30 per cent last year. An audit from November last year shows the digital business is quite the success story. It could double in value in the next two years to just under $1 billion, based on revenue from direct advertising, sponsorship, sales and broadcast. Mr Alderson said the network remains focused on working with Foxtel and Nine to strike the right balance. "The largest opportunity among many that presents is to talk to them about tuning into the live game," he said. "That’s the lifeblood of the sport and the economics of the sport. Helping the audience engage with the live matches quickly and as easily as they can when it's on is a big part of why we exist. That involves a range of work and collaboration with both Nine and Foxtel to get that right.” Send via Email License this article NRL 2019 MEDIA & MARKETING Zoe Samios Twitter Email Zoe Samios is a media and telecommunications reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.