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Martin Devlin: Sky TV's NRL bluff

opinion

By Martin Devlin

Published: 7:45AM Friday March 08, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

"Much ado about nothing?"

Hands up who honestly thought that the Australian Rugby League Commission  and SkyTV weren't going to (eventually) come to a happy compromise over television rights for this year's NRL comp?
No-one? Good!

Truth is they were ALWAYS doing the deal. They were never NOT going to shake hands and make plans to broadcast the matches live here in New Zealand.

Sure it may've been officially inked just in the nick of time for last night's season opener, but that was nothing more than (what seems to have become) an annual tease where all involved parties like to flex their intent before aiming to please.

And I confidently assert this for one very obvious and compelling reason:

BECAUSE EVERYONE SUPPOSEDLY AT LOGGERHEADS MAY'VE LOOKED LIKE THEY WERE ARGUING, WHILE IN FACT, THEY ALL ALWAYS WANTED THE EXACT SAME THING!

The NRL itself, under fierce competition from the AFL/Super Rugby/A-League etc, would never consider for a minute giving up the extra 4.5million potential viewers our country provides. That would be utter commercial idiocy. Then there's the feeder comp, ANZAC Test matches, Four Nations and the State of Origin.

Sky TV, the monopolist pay-per-view broadcasters of live sport here in New Zealand, were never seriously going to risk the wrath of their own league-fan subscribers by refusing (for the very first time) to buy the rights.

The Warriors know only too well that their major commercial relationships absolutely hinge on continued prime-time television coverage - not to mention the fact that there are definitely a heck of a lot more fans of the team (both here and in Aussie) than the 12,000 average gate that turns up at Mt Smart.

So forget all the tedious huff'n'puff'n'posturing from the various, so-called "warring parties".

C'mon! Do you honestly think the afore-mentioned groups aren't acutely aware that dragging this thing out, (and all the subsequent media coverage the saga then provides), isn't free advertising in the immediate weeks before their comp was always going to kick-off?

Let me repeat: ALL INVOLVED WANTED EXACTLY THE SAME OUTCOME.

But for commercial purpose and ego as much as anything else it seems they feel a bizarre need to stage a series of these mock public fights, before (once again) an 11th hour compromise is agreed on the broadcast rights.

As a famous Yankees baseballer Yogi Berra might've said, "it's déjà-vu all over again"!

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