TELEVISION rights ultimately remain the real challenge for tipping the scales in favour of PNG’s NRL bid come 2013. This was the sentiment echoed by the Bid’s chairman Philemon Embel and his deputy NCD Governor Powes Parkop yesterday during frank discussions with the media.
Both Embel and Parkop, who oversee the running of the PNGNRL Bid, said the question of television rights was still the biggest hurdle to overcome given that the country was new to this facet of professional sport.
“We have already announced a junior rugby league programme and have selected potential sites to build a world class stadium to accommodate our PNG-based franchise but securing television rights for broadcasting matches and generating enough money from it is something that is new to PNG sports,” Embel said.
The technical peculiarities of meeting this key requirement of the NRL is not lost on both men with Embel saying that in order for the country to support such a venture in a professional sport, which generates its money from television sponsors, the PNGNRL Bid would need to guarantee a sustainable number of viewers as well as a minimum revenue of A$10 million.
Channel Nine has exclusive broadcast rights for the NRL and this guarantees them a large viewership at game time which in turn equals revenue producing opportunities for a wide spectrum of sponsors and that is in essence how they make their money. They give a certain amount of the revenue they make towards the competition to prop it up and in return they get a guaranteed audience.
Basically it breaks down to the number of TV sets and how many homes in an area have access to viewing.
“In PNG we do not necessarily follow this model because we do not have a wide distribution of technology (TV sets) but there are other means of getting electronic and digital media to a wider audience.
“Things like the use of mobile phones and other devices can be looked at.
“But we do have a large number of people who watch the games even though the ratio of viewers to TV sets is high.”
For PNG to be able to put a compelling case for TV rights it would need to garner enough support from local industry and businesses along with the logistical backing to have a certain number of matches a year broadcast to a national and international audience.
Fittingly though, the PNGNRL Bid has plans to engage a special consultant (unnamed) from the NRL soon to map out a plan on how to make PNG’s TV rights a viable option in 2013 and beyond.
But for this to take place it would need a strong and robust economy and enough sponsorship from business houses.