With several reports claiming that Fox Sports is set to end its 25-year broadcast history with Rugby Australia, Head of Fox Sports Peter Campbell has made a statement.
Mr Campbell said rugby union would remain on Fox Sports for 2020, but decisions about broadcast rights from 2021 were in the hands of Rugby Australia.
“We never comment on commercial negotiations or speculation about broadcast rights,” Mr Campbell said.
“Fox Sports will continue to be the home of rugby union with all Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship and Wallabies games in 2020.
“The rugby rights from 2021 onwards are a matter for Rugby Australia.”
Reports first circulated when News Corp Australia, majority owner of Fox Sports Australia, said that after months of negotiations talks had come to an end on Wednesday.
Fox Sports has had deals with rugby in Australia dating back to 1996 and the current deal, that was signed in 2015, is worth $285 million, giving RA $57 million a year.
Fox Sports and Network Ten are the current domestic broadcasters of rugby in Australia, with Fox Sports showing all Super Rugby games and both screening Wallabies Test matches.
“We are preparing to take the package to market early this month,” a Rugby Australia spokesman told News Corp Australia.
The highly publicised departure of Israel Folau through an undisclosed settlement, which is thought to have cost the game several million dollars, along with declining interest in Super Rugby, lower crowds and television viewing numbers have cast a shadow over the future of the code in Australia.
New Zealand and South Africa confirmed their respective broadcasting partnerships through 2025 last year.
New Zealand Rugby signed back on with Sky in a deal which will see All Blacks tests (excluding the World Cup), Super Rugby matches, Mitre10 Cup and other domestic competitions televised on the platform.
NZR became a five per cent shareholder in the company as part of the deal.
Australia failed to follow suit, with Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle declining Fox’s original offer.
The first round Super Rugby matches averaged just 33,000 viewers last weekend, down 19 per cent on round one last year and games involving Australian teams were down 35 per cent.