ARL announce bumper broadcast deal

The Australian Rugby League Commission has hit the jackpot after announcing a five-year broadcasting agreement worth more than $1billion (£664million).

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The staggering deal with Nine and Fox Sports is made up of $925m in cash, plus an added $100m in advertising, and could be boosted further with rights to broadcast games in New Zealand, while mobile and online broadcast rights are still to be negotiated.

The record deal is a major boost for rugby league in Australia, with payments to players expected to soar, making it more difficult for rugby union and the AFL to poach the NRL's biggest stars.

It will also further reduce the drain of top talent to Super League, where the capture of elite players such as Trent Barrett and Mal Meninga are already remnants of the past.

"The whole package is a simply fantastic result for rugby league," ARL Commission chairman John Grant told a press conference in Sydney after signing a formal heads of agreement on Tuesday morning.

"The cash that comes from the agreement, used wisely, will provide the funding base for sustainably growing our game from the grass roots to the elite levels."

Nine boss David Gyngell said: "The players and clubs are all going to get a good drink out of this, there is nothing surer than that.

"We stepped up and put as much money into rugby league as we possibly could. Salary caps are going to increase and the grants to the clubs are going to improve.

"The most important thing is that with the windfall for the game we grow the roots and get more people playing it and fend off the AFL in western Sydney and in Queensland and push back in the traditional rugby league areas of Queensland, Gold Coast and Sydney."

As part of the deal, Nine and Fox Sports will provide coverage of the Four Nations Series, which is due to resume in 2014 after next year's World Cup.

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