TWO NEW broadcasters have entered the race to screen Super League matches as bosses aim to get even more screened or streamed in a ‘transformational year.’
Six alternative formats for the Challenge Cup are also being considered, including a ‘Champions League’ style featuring a group stage.
And England’s Autumn Test series will be announced once the NRL’s complicated collective bargaining agreement (CBA) talks are concluded – with Tonga likely to be lined up.
The 13-a-side code has entered a new off-field era with the strategic partnership with media giant IMG and the creation of Rugby League Commercial as part of the re-alignment between Super League and the Rugby Football League.
Discussions have already started on new TV deals as Sky’s and Channel 4’s end this year and managing director Rhodri Jones revealed more platforms have come to the table.
He said: “There are a couple of other properties in the market at the moment.
“Sky, a long-term partner, still continues to be a fantastic one and we’re actively talking to them.
“Same goes with the Channel 4 contract. The soundings from them on continuing their relationship are very positive.
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“But the market is buoyant. There are other players in the market who perhaps weren’t 18 months ago.
“I can’t think of a sports league that doesn’t have all its fixtures available for broadcast – that’s the direction of travel we’re going in. It’s a key year in terms of the visibility of the sport.”
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IMG unveiled their recommendations as they ‘re-imagine’ the sport, with revamping the Challenge Cup one of the main aims.
Their proposal for two-legged ties has already been vetoed but a number of plans are being discussed.
Whatever happens, the final will move earlier in the calendar but there is a chance Super League’s Magic Weekend could stay, even though Jones concedes it affected the cup final.
And England’s future opponents are waiting for the CBA Down Under to be agreed.
Jones added: “We’re working through six solutions for the Challenge Cup, of which two are viable, and the Champions League idea is within those six.
“We have to let the NRL guys get through the CBA stuff, it has an impact on what our internationals look like at the end of the year, without a doubt.
“We’ve put in place all the measures we can control, and the nation we’re talking to, to the point where we’re just waiting for the CBA discussions to be concluded.
“Once they are, we’ll be in a good place to confirm an international series.”