Channel 9 vs Fox Sports: Which has the best NRL games coverage?
Don't be confused about your options for following the NRL. From Channel 9 to Fox Sports, here's the key breakdown.
When following the NRL in Australia, your 2 major options are either following on free-to-air TV with Channel 9, or going with a number of paid subscriptions to follow along on the NRL-dedicated Fox Sports channel, Fox League.
It's important you have all the information about these 2 services before you dive into the new season, so we've put this guide together.
Channel 9 vs Fox Sports head-to-head
Following along on Channel 9 will cost you nothing if you already have an antenna set up, whereas accessing Fox Sports can range from $25 to $74 a month, depending on your package. Another key difference is the amount of games you can access with these services. Channel 9 broadcasts 3 games every week, up to round 21, when they bump it up to 4. Meanwhile, Fox Sports broadcasts every single home-and-away game of the 2022 season.
Every game that is broadcast on 9 is also available live and on-demand on the 9Now website and app. If viewers in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania can put down their AFL balls long enough to watch, they'll find NRL games on 9Gem rather than standard Channel 9.
Channel 9 vs Fox Sports price comparison
As long as your antenna is installed, Channel 9 is completely free. If you want to livestream the games, you can do so on 9Now with a free account. Obviously, Channel 9 will come with ads, while Fox League is completely ad-free during play.
There are 3 main ways to access Fox Sports content. The cheapest and most accessible option is Kayo. For $25 a month, livestream all the content available on Fox Sports, including every NRL home-and-away season game, and every finals series game except the grand final. For $35 a month, you can simultaneously stream on 3 devices instead of 2. A 14-day free trial is available for new customers, which is easy to sign up for and cancel.
Alternatively, if you already have a Foxtel iQ box, you can simply add the Sports Package, which will necessitate also adding the Plus Package, collectively costing you $74/month. Once you've done that, simply install the Foxtel GO app, or visit the Foxtel website, and begin streaming.
Finally, you can utilise Foxtel Now to stream the NRL 2022 season. On Foxtel Now, the Sports Pack will set you back $29/month, and you will also have to get the Essentials Pack to go along with it, which costs $25/month. Collectively, they will cost you $54/month.
Channel 9 vs Fox Sports content comparison
|All home-and-away games||Grand final live broadcast|
|Foxtel Sports HD||Yes||No|
Channel 9 will show 3 games a week, up until round 21, on Thursday nights, Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. From round 21, it'll also show a Saturday night game. It will broadcast every game of the finals series, and has exclusive rights to the live broadcast of the grand final. The same exclusive rights apply to the State of Origin series.
Meanwhile, Fox Sports will broadcast every single home-and-away game of the 2022 season. If you're a diehard fan of teams like the Warriors or Bulldogs, who will be getting next to no free-to-air coverage in 2022, that means hopping on Foxtel or Kayo is your only option to follow your team. Fox Sports will show every finals game live except the grand final, which will only be available on demand, after the game is over. The same is true of the State of Origin series.
Signing up for Fox Sports or Kayo means gaining access to live coverage of more than 50 sports. Nine's sports coverage is decent, with access to rugby union and Grand Slam tennis, but really has nothing on what you'll get with Foxtel. Any packages you're forced to acquire to go along with a Fox Sports package are content mines of their own. See our full guide to Foxtel programming here.
Channel 9 vs Fox Sport presenters and commentators
Commentary can make or break an NRL game, which is why it's slightly troubling that there's a bit of mystery surrounding Channel 9's commentary team to begin the season. Phil "Gus" Gould will return to call Channel 9's games, but won't be in the booth for the round 1 clash between the Bulldogs and the Cowboys, after taking up a role as the head of Canterbury's football operations. Meanwhile, Ray Warren – the voice of an astonishing 45 grand finals – has not yet been confirmed to be returning in any capacity.
Recently retired greats like Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater are expected to lead the charge for Nine from here on out. Nine's main support show, 100% Footy, airs weekly on Monday nights, and features presenters James Bracey, Phil Gould, Paul Gallen and more. You catch up with it on 9Now.
Fox Sports' NRL coverage is famously led by the great Matty Johns. Other key commentators, personalities and analysts for Fox include Greg Alexander, Cooper Cronk, Yvonne Sampson, Braith Anasta and newcomer Benji Marshall. Since Fox Sports has a whole channel to fill with NRL content, they have more support programming on offer. Matty Johns leads both The Late Show with Matty Johns and Sunday Night with Matty Johns, while other programs like NRL 360 round out the package.
Channel 9 vs Fox Sport device compatibility
Channel 9 will work on any aerial television. The 9Now app can be used on your computer via the website, or can be downloaded on iOS or Android devices. It is also available on a vast array of TV streaming options, including Apple TV, Chromecast, Telstra TV, Samsung TVs, PlayStation 4 and more.
Fox Sports content can be accessed on your iQ box if you have one. The Foxtel Now app, or the similar Foxtel Go app, can be accessed via iOS or Android devices, Chromecast, Telstra TV, Samsung TVs, PlayStation 4 and more. Kayo can be downloaded on most of the same devices as well. See our complete guides to the device compatibility of Foxtel Now and Kayo.
Channel 9 vs Fox Sports viewing features
Channel 9's viewing features are pretty meagre. If you're watching on an aerial television, there isn't much on offer other than looking at the screen. 9Now will offer on-demand replays, as well as clips and highlights.
Fox Sports HD offers 4K streaming. Foxtel also offers Mini Matches – on demand and on Foxtel GO. As stated above, Fox Sports is completely ad-free during play. If you have an iQ box, you can take advantage of local recording.
Offering by far the most viewing features is Kayo. Check out our complete guide to Kayo's feature list, which include Interactive Stats, SplitView, No Spoilers and Key Moments.
Channel 9 vs Fox Sport: Our verdict
Whether Channel 9 or Fox Sport is best for you truly comes down to what your needs are for the upcoming season. If you're a casual fan, Channel 9 will provide the weekly marquee match-ups, and complete coverage of the finals series. If that's enough for you, save your money and stick with Nine. Additionally, anyone who plans on watching the grand final or State of Origin will need to park themselves in front of Channel 9 for those games.
If you're a diehard fan who wants to watch as much of the 2022 season as possible, you will need to find a way to access Fox Sports. If you have a variety of entertainment interests, look into a Foxtel package. If you only want to watch footy, or footy and a number of other sports, the value proposition of Kayo is very hard to turn down.
Image source: NRL.com website