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NRL matches could be split into quarters to boost TV rights income

The 2019 NRL Grand Final between the Canberra Raiders and Sydney Roosters (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

The Australian Rugby League Commission, the sport’s national governing body, is considering splitting matches into four quarters rather than two halves to boost future media-rights income.

Peter V’landys, the new chairman of the commission, is pushing for the move, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. The system of four quarters has only previously been used in non-competitive contests in pre-season to allow for water breaks during high temperatures.

Carving games up into four quarters would not only allow for additional advertisement breaks, but would also possibly lead to fewer breaks in play for interchanges, due to reduced fatigue levels for the players on the pitch.

A number of other rule changes are under consideration and could be proposed for ratification at a commission meeting tomorrow (Thursday), the newspaper added. V’landys, who replaced Peter Beattie in October, will chair the meeting.

V’landys has already said that his top priority will be to increase the media-rights revenue for the top-tier NRL beyond the total of A$1.8bn (€1.110bn/$1.232bn), secured in the five-year cycle from 2018 to 2022.

Commercial broadcaster Nine, pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports and the Telstra telecommunications company provide NRL coverage in Australia, with the current total rights fee having marked a 70-per-cent increase on the previous cycle with the same primary media partners.

V’landys is keen to bring certainty to clubs, even though the current agreements still have some three years to run, the newspaper added.

He said: “There are a lot of decisions to be made in the next 12 months in relation to broadcast, but we will have it in a package that will maximise the return to the game. To me, that is the most important aspect, to ensure the game stays viable. If you’re not viable, you’re nowhere. It’s critical we continue to get the revenues we’re getting.”