TELSTRA has sealed a mobile broadcasting rights and sponsorship deal with the National Rugby League worth about $100 million
The deal signals its continuing strategy of expanding its media assets as it loses its old copper network.
The five-year deal will give Telstra the right to stream eight games a week, plus special events such as state of origin, the finals series and Test matches over the internet and to tablets and mobiles. But the News Ltd-owned Fox Sports still has the right to broadcast five games a week to tablets and internet-enabled television under an early agreement signed with the league, a spokesman confirmed.
''Australians have embraced smartphones and tablet devices, and this partnership provides for us to make the app and its live coverage available to all NRL fans where and when they want it," Telstra's chief executive David Thodey said at a press conference in Sydney.
Telstra will make NRL content available to fans on any mobile network, but will charge non-Telstra customers an extra fee. Telstra declined to comment on the monetary value of the deal. But the Australian Rugby League Commission's chairman, John Grant, indicated that the new five-year deal with Telstra would be worth more than $100 million and ''double'' the value of the previous deal.
The new deal with the NRL follows Telstra's $153 million agreement last year with the Australian Football League to stream matches live over the internet from 2012 to 2016. Telstra's move underscores its strategy of becoming more than just a telecommunications infrastructure provider.
Industry analysts say companies such as Telstra and Optus are re-orienting their services provision towards more media-centric platform.
''They are moving up the supply chain, not just to be the means by which this information is delivered but also the provider of this information,'' said Craig Schulman, a senior industry analyst from IBISWorld. Telstra consolidated its media assets into a single division in 2012 to increase focus on content delivery business.
With NBN Co taking control of the nation's fixed communications network, Telstra is focusing on mobile communications.
In this space it competes against Optus, owned by Singapore Telecommunications, and Vodafone Hutchison Australia.
The NRL deal will give Telstra the naming rights to the premiership and Sunday football as well as a host of other marketing rights.
In August the NRL signed a $1.025 billion, five-year deal with Channel Nine and Fox Sports.