Fox Sports launches dedicated rugby league channel ahead of new NRL season
Fox Sports, the Australian pay-television broadcaster, today launched its dedicated National Rugby League channel, which it has set up in the wake of its A$1.175-billion ($904-million) outlay on rights to the top domestic league.
Fox League, which goes live on Foxtel on 20 February, will feature more than 32 hours of live content each week, including all eight NRL games, with nine magazine shows planned.
Programming will come from new state-of-the-art studios, while game-day graphics will include a virtual 10 metre line that will give viewers a clear idea if a team is off-side.
Patrick Delaney, chief executive of Fox Sports, said a 24/7 rugby league channel had been high on the NRL's agenda when negotiations were taking place 18 months ago.
He said: "This was a significant thing when we did the deal. A dedicated channel allows you to do things you can’t do when you’re a straight sports channel, or an entertainment channel."
In November 2015, the NRL announced a new A$1.8-billion, five-year domestic rights deal with Fox and commercial broadcaster Nine Network, 70 per cent up on the previous contract.
The deal does not come into force until 2018, but Fox said at the time it would look to launch a dedicated rugby league channel before the start of the 2017 campaign.
The 2017 season begins on 2 March.