Rugby World Cup radio deal collapses two days before opener

Rugby League fans will not be able to listen to the Kangaroos take on England tomorrow night.

Less than 48 hours before the commencement of the Rugby League World Cup series, a last-minute bid to air the game on SBS radio hasn’t eventuated. 

As reported in The Daily Telegraph, neither the Cup, nor any international match for the next month will be aired after International Management Group failed in its attempt to lock in a deal with a local network. Owing to their Ashes commitments, ABC and Triple M declined to pay for the rights, reported to be as little as $50,000. 

The Gabba Test clashes with the League semi-finals, with the Cup final to be played on the same night as the beginning of the Test in Adelaide. Other AM and FM stations had passed on the rights before SBS Digital 3 showed interest, but tech protection issues forced them to abandon the bid on Wednesday.

With the radio rights already sold in England and the Pacific, SBS did not have the ‘geo-blocking’ technology in place to prevent the broadcast being heard outside of Australia.

Rugby League World Cup boss Andrew Hill, whose event will now be shown on TV network Seven, told The Daily Telegraph: “We’re disappointed IMG Media were not able to obtain radio rights within Australia.’’

There remains an outside chance an FM station will call the final on December 2.



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