PRO12 Expansion. Is It The Least Worst Option?

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27 July 2017 by Mark Evans, Capacity Consulting

Well everyone agreed something had to be done. The ever increasing disparity between the media rights income of the two pre-eminent rugby leagues in Europe and the third was becoming a chasm. Even with a share of EPRC monies the Celtic fringe (plus Italy) are poor relations in comparison to their English and French cousins. It all comes down to audience size, which translates into rights fees and the numbers are not pretty if your market is far smaller than those around you.

So although the extra £6M the SA sides bring with them from SuperSport, as a form of dowry, is more than welcome; anyone who thinks this a long term solution really hasn’t been paying attention. It will still leave most Pro 12/14 teams well below their Top 14 or Aviva Premiership counterparts in terms of revenue per team. Even with European competition and Six Nations TV revenues being more evenly distributed the gap is still significant.

Nor is it likely to narrow going forward. That is not the way rights fees work - the larger audiences tend to grow whilst the marginal wither. Of course it is not all plain sailing for the English and French (viewing figures in France particularly are lower than they were and the new Sky formats means an English reliance on BT) but the direction of travel is clear. Bigger markets, larger crowds, higher audiences and therefore greater revenues all means the Pro14 will

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