All Super Rugby AU finals will also be live on Nine.
The rest of Rugby Australia’s broadcast offering – including all other Super Rugby matches, Super W, the remainder of the Rugby Championship, inbound Tests for other southern hemisphere nations, Wallaroos games, Shute Shield, Hospital Cup, New Zealand’s Mitre 10 and South Africa’s Currie Cup – will be live and ad-free on the newly-created Stan Sport.
Stan Sport will be considered an “add-on”, meaning current Stan subscribers will not get automatic access to the smorgasbord of rugby content.
Stan chief executive Mike Sneesby was coy on how much the sport package – which will include other sports – will cost but it is expected to fall in line with current Stan subscription prices.
“We will be launching sport as an add-on package on Stan. More details will be (available) closer to launch but it will be an add-on package to our entertainment package,” Sneesby said.
“Stan’s subscriber base is over 2.2 million and is growing a reach far bigger than that, in terms of our overall account base. We’re very confident in what we will bring to rugby fans around Australia.”
Nine chief executive Hugh Marks also hinted at innovation in the way rugby is broadcast.
That will be music to the ears of Australian rugby fans, as staff cuts in recent years has seen Fox Sports’ coverage of the game greatly diminish.
“We have got some pretty exciting thoughts and concepts about how we are going to bring some new things to the coverage of rugby,” Marks said.
“That was one of the things that Rob and I spoke about very early on. When you look at the coverage of rugby, what are the things you could maybe bring to make it lift compared to what you might be able to do in other sports?
“I think you will see some pretty exciting developments from that.”
The Shute Shield and Queensland’s Premier Rugby competition will have four games broadcast on Nine throughout their seasons.
One match per finals weekend will also be broadcast on the free-to-air network.
Every other club game will be behind the Stan Sport paywall.
Rugby Australia chief executive Rob Clarke praised the landmark deal, which is more significant in both cash and contra than the previous domestic contract with Foxtel.
“The fantasy has become a reality for the Australian rugby community,” Clarke said.
“This is a landmark deal that includes everything in the showbag, and it gives more Australians more access to more rugby than ever before.
“Australian rugby is transforming with an exciting future ahead, and this innovative partnership enables us to fast-track that growth from the grassroots up as well as showcase and promote the game like never before.”
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Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.