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Growing digital revenues drive NRL to $46 million profit

Growing digital revenues drive NRL to $46 million profit
March 1, 2019

The successful integration of its in-house digital and sponsorship strategy has resulted in the NRL reporting a $42.8 million profit and total consolidated revenue of $500 million for the 2018 season.

Following a $3.7 million net loss in 2017, the rugby league’s governing body has attributed the growth to digital revenue, which increased $17 million from $6.6 million to $23.6 million, along with sponsorship and wagering, up from $73 million in 2017 to $78.9 million last year.

NRL’s new broadcast deal with Nine and Fox Sports recorded $318 million, while non-broadcast revenue also grew by 21% or $30.9 million last year, backed by reduced cost.

Commenting on the results, Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman, Peter Beattie stated "this is a great result in the first year of the new broadcast cycle.

“We are now a $500 million revenue business.

“To put that into perspective, in 2017 we were a $350 million revenue business, while when the Commission was formed in 2012 our turnover was $180 million.

“This is extraordinary growth and more importantly, as a result, we have been able to deliver more money to clubs, states and grassroots rugby league than ever before.”

The NRL’s 2018 highlights:

• Total match attendances (2.2%)
• Club memberships (5.2%)
• Australian and New Zealand television audiences (1.1%)
• Registered players (3.6%)
• Top-rating program on Australian television in 2018, with 3.52m viewers tuning in to the opening Holden State of Origin match, while the inaugural Women’s State of Origin attracted a cumulative peak audience of 919,711
• The first NRLW season attracted a cumulative audience of 1.85 million and matches boasted the highest average audience (67,948) of any women’s football competition in Australia last year
• Crowds increased to 3,252,238 and cumulative television audiences across the Telstra Premiership rose to 116,2015,132 – vindicating the increased investment by broadcasters
• Subscribers to the NRL Telstra Live Pass increased and the number of match streams grew by 89%
• More than 830,000 fans signed up for an NRL Digital account, with video on demand views increasing by 53% on the new NRL Digital network
• Club memberships increased to 332,996, led by Brisbane (36,420), South Sydney (29,189), Parramatta (25,145) and Melbourne (25,105).
• Newcastle experienced the biggest growth, up 35% to 18,017, while nine other clubs posted record membership figures.
• NRL clubs received a $65.8 million increase in distribution of funds, with their annual grants rising from $8.4 million in 2017 to $13.1 million per club last year.
• Besides the 42% increase in funding to clubs from $156.9 million in 2017 to $222.8 million last year, funding to states and affiliates rose 16% to $38.1 million, while the NRL devoted $35.1 million for development

Beattie said the increase in non-broadcast revenue had exceeded expectations, adding "we know this is the first year of this (broadcast) cycle, which we knew would produce strong financial health for the game, but this is a result we can build on."

Image: 2018 NRL season action as the North Queensland Cowboys take on the Gold Coast Titans.

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