By Scott Woodward of www.championprofits.com When talking about the NRL media deal, all we hear from media sources is speculation as to whether it will hit the magical $1billion mark. But who really cares? It makes no difference to the most important people in Australian rugby league, the fans, if the magical $1 billion figure is reached in the upcoming broadcast rights deal. The media is fixated on outdoing the AFL’s five year $1.253 deal, which is an increase of $780 million on the previous agreement. There is no doubt that the clubs and the players would love more money in the pot, but the size of the final contract has no impact on the consumer, who only cares about watching their team live on free to air with no advertising. Crucial in negotiations should be that the quality of the content should not be diminished by three and a half minutes of four or five consecutive ads every time a ball is kicked out. The continuity must be maintained otherwise it feels as though we are watching a highlights package. Why do we waste valuable time with a half-time report when we are watching a replay? The ARL Commission must ensure that what Channel Nine have done with their second replayed Friday night game and the Sunday replay should never be repeated. You only have to watch the initial Friday night game televised live and then the delayed second game to notice the massive difference in quality and excitement. While the second game is on you can actually cook dinner, have a shave in one set of adverts and a shower in the next set. Importantly, few children can stay up until 11.30pm for the second game, which is the key market that the NRL should be nurturing. Channel Nine manage to draw out a game of two 40 minute halves into 120 minutes, and generally kill any momentum that may have built up. As a consumer I could not give a “drop kick” how much the deal is worth, but I do care about the quality of the end product that we end up with. Fans should have a choice and not be saddled with a broadcast monopoly that cheapens a great game. The ARLC should take a hit in the total if it means the fans will get a better deal. It is 2012 and we should never have to watch any game as a replay. Fans want to be able to watch every game live and if the free-to-air channels must force a delayed and inferior product into our lounge rooms, then fans must have an alternative outlet to watch it live, either on Pay TV or via streaming. This strategy would maximise viewer appeal and ideally claim market share from the AFL. Former NRL CEO David Gallop can take credit for ensuring the current product is balanced and competitive each week, unlike the AFL, who put broadcast rights before the quality of their product and now we see lop sided games every week with men against boys. The pressure to expand the NRL is also immense, but the recent State of Origin Series underlined that the depth of talent is simply not currently available. The ARLC must focus on developing new talent that could one day be of first grade standard if they hope to introduce two more teams. Logically this “unearthed” talent is in the country and at junior level in Sydney and Brisbane and is “lost” before they reach 16 as our budding champions prefer games played on their iPhone or PC. The massive untapped well is in New Zealand, who boast around 40,000 juniors who play league. Surely with this huge array of talent on their door step, a second team to compete against the Warriors is a no brainer. This would offer a top class game of rugby league in the shaky Isles every weekend, which would not only grow the game in another country and unearth many genuine incremental future stars, but enhance the Kiwis national team. While they may be world champions, there is still a lot of growing to do: currently, women’s netball is considered New Zealand’s second most popular sport after union.