The successful integration of the NRL’s in-house digital and sponsorship strategy has resulted in a $42.8 million profit and total consolidated revenue of $500 million for the 2018 season.
Following a $3.7m net loss in 2017, the game’s governing body has attributed the growth to digital revenue, which increased $17m from $6.6m to $23.6m, along with sponsorship and wagering, up from $73m in 2017 to $78.9m last year.
NRL’s new broadcast deal with Nine and Fox Sports recorded $318m, however, non-broadcast revenue also grew by 21% or $30.9m last year, while costs were down.
“This is a great result in the first year of the new broadcast cycle,” ARLC chairman, Peter Beattie said.
“We are now a $500 million revenue business.
“To put that into perspective, in 2017 we were a $350 million revenue business, while when the Commission was formed in 2012 our turnover was $180 million.
“This is extraordinary growth and more importantly, as a result, we have been able to deliver more money to clubs, states and grassroots rugby league than ever before.”
The NRL’s 2018 highlights:
- Total match attendances (2.2%)
- Club memberships (5.2%)
- Australian and New Zealand television audiences (1.1%)
- Registered players (3.6%)
- Top-rating program on Australian television in 2018, with 3.52m viewers tuning in to the opening Holden State of Origin match, while the inaugural Women’s State of Origin attracted a cumulative peak audience of 919,711
- The first NRLW season attracted a cumulative audience of 1.85m and matches boasted the highest average audience (67,948) of any women’s football competition in Australia last year
- Crowds increased to 3,252,238 and cumulative television audiences across the Telstra Premiership rose to 116,2015,132 – vindicating the increased investment by broadcasters
- Subscribers to the NRL Telstra Live Pass increased and the number of match streams grew by 89%
- More than 830,000 fans signed up for an NRL Digital account, with video on demand views increasing by 53% on the new NRL Digital network
- Club memberships increased to 332,996, led by Brisbane (36,420), South Sydney (29,189), Parramatta (25,145) and Melbourne (25,105).
- Newcastle experienced the biggest growth, up 35% to 18,017, while nine other clubs posted record membership figures.
- NRL clubs received a $65.8m increase in distribution of funds, with their annual grants rising from $8.4m in 2017 to $13.1m per club last year.
- Besides the 42% increase in funding to clubs from $156.9m in 2017 to $222.8m last year, funding to states and affiliates rose 16% to $38.1m, while the NRL devoted $35.1m for development
Beattie said the increase in non-broadcast revenue had exceeded expectations.
“We know this is the first year of this [broadcast] cycle, which we knew would produce strong financial health for the game, but this is a result we can build on,” Beattie said.