The NRL folk still haven’t made an official announcement about this, but 2GB and Triple M have made their match lists for round one public information, and it can be deducted from this what the general arrangements are for the year.
Please note that I am not including the ABC here. ABC coverage remains virtually unchanged from previous years.
2GB and Triple M have retained the commercial radio rights, with an expansion in the number of games being covered by Triple M. 2GB have retained the games to which they had rights last year: Nine’s NSW Friday night match, the 5:30pm Saturday match, the 7:30pm Saturday match and one Sunday afternoon match (which appears to be the 2pm match, although it’s unclear what they will do about this when that match occurs at midday Sydney time due to it being played in New Zealand).
Triple M, have picked up rights to almost every non-2GB match except Saturdays. Triple M have exclusive access to Thursday night and Monday night matches. Triple M will also call the 3pm Sunday match as well as the Sunday night match. At this stage it is unclear what will happen when there is no Thursday night match and the NRL returns to having two Friday night matches. For as long as Thursday night matches exist, Triple M have exclusive access to Thursday night, however it is unclear whether, when there are two Friday night matches, 2GB and Triple M will call the same match or different matches, or if 2GB have exclusivity (in Sydney at least) to Friday nights. 2GB appear to have exclusive rights in Sydney to Friday night as long as Thursday night matches exist. There is also a little bit of confusion surrounding what happens when there are two 7:30pm Saturday games at the expense of a Sunday game. Logic would say that Triple M will call the non-2GB match, but given that logic seems to have very little to do with broadcast agreements, I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.
Precise details of what can be expected will, at this stage, probably remain known on a week-by-week basis, at least until the NRL decides to make a proper announcement about the radio rights.
For regional markets, there are a few other changes. Stations owned by Southern Cross Austereo will no longer take 2GB’s coverage, instead taking Triple M’s coverage. Also, not that it’s regional, but it seems that 4BC Brisbane have opted out of covering NRL this year. Triple M Brisbane will be covering matches though, with every Broncos game and the majority of the matches called by Triple M Sydney. This means that Triple M Brisbane will be covering the Friday night match which 2GB are also calling. 4BC Brisbane will be taking 2UE Sydney’s Saturday and Sunday afternoon sport-based talk show with John Gibbs and Paul Vautin.
Other regional changes will depend entirely on the stations in the area and with whom they are affiliating themselves.
2GB’s commentary team remains unchanged with the possible exception of 4BC’s Peter Psaltis not returning due to 4BC’s decision to drop NRL coverage. They have also shuffled their commentator lineup a tad by the looks of things.
Triple M will be sharing primary calling duties between Dan Ginnane, who has been their chief Monday night commentator for the last few years, and Anthony Maroon who filled-in for Dan last year during the Olympics. Triple M have retained the services of Peter Sterling, Andrew and Matty Johns, Steve Mascord, and Mark Geyer (I’m 99% certain that MG was part of Triple M’s team last year…I’m running off memory here so I could be mistaken), and have added a bunch of people to their coverage including Ryan Girdler, Wendell Sailor, Gordon Tallis, Nathan Hindmarsh (something in the back of my mind remembers hearing him on Triple M last year…again, I could be mistaken on that one), Bill Harrigan, Paul Gallen, Robbie Farrah, Willie Mason, Brett Finch, Tony Squires, Ben Dobbin, Andrew Webster, and Brent Read.
The bottom line on all of this is that almost every game, every week, will be available on commercial radio, which is fantastic news for those of us who do not have Foxtel and are not overly enamoured with ABC Radio’s NRL coverage.
It all starts on Thursday night. How wonderful it is to have NRL back!