Which NRL team has the most free-to-air games?
Which NRL team has the most games on free-to-air TV? We’ve done the hard work and have a team-by-team breakdown.
Updated . What changed?
In an ideal world you could watch your favourite team on TV every single week for free, but that's also not realistic. The NRL relies on funding for the salary cap from its broadcast agreement.
It's simple supply and demand. The more providers that want to show NRL on the telly, the more funds available for the competition.
The NRL's current broadcast agreement sees games shown on free-to-air, pay TV and streaming services. Before the NRL was postponed due to COVID-19, free-to-air provider Channel 9 had an agreement to show just 3 matches live per week until round 21 when it would start showing 4. Now with a revamped 20-round season, Channel 9 will only have three live matches per round throughout.
If fans are hoping to watch every single game they've got a few options. All NRL games are broadcast live and ad-free on FOX LEAGUE via Foxtel, Kayo Sports and Foxtel Now. The only other choice is to watch via NRL Live Pass. You can read more in our how to watch NRL guide.
NRL free-to-air breakdown
Every year fans are left to analyse the draw or check their local guides hoping to see if their beloved team is on TV. However, the schedule isn't spread evenly, with a huge disparity between clubs.
In 2020 it's the Brisbane Broncos who sit atop with 15 fixtures on Channel 9. Other teams rounding out the top four in terms of appearances on the Nine Network are Melbourne Storm, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Parramatta Eels. The St. George Illawarra Dragons originally featured here over the Eels, but the revamped draw has them reduced to just seven free-to-air fixtures.
It's bad news for supporters of the Gold Coast Titans and New Zealand Warriors who have just one match on free-to-air each. In fact half of the teams in the NRL have less than 50% of their footy on Channel 9.
Those snubbed teams include the Manly Sea Eagles, North Queensland Cowboys, Canterbury Bulldogs, Cronulla Sharks, Canberra Raiders, Wests Tigers, Penrith Panthers and Newcastle Knights, in addition to the Titans, Warriors and Dragons mentioned above.
NRL schedule quirks
Another thing for fans to consider is that the free-to-air network games clubs do get aren't spread out evenly. The Sharks are exclusive to Fox Sports until round seven. Surprisingly reigning premiers Sydney Roosters weren't on free-to-air for the first two weeks of the season.
While Manly enjoy a healthy amount of simulcast games early on, they also have long stretches between when they're exclusive to FOX LEAGUE, including rounds 9–15 and 17–20.
Raiders and Bulldogs fans also get long stretches of the season where they are exclusive to Fox. After round 10, last year's grand finalists won't appear again on Channel 9, something that has irked coach Ricky Stuart. The Bulldogs are solely on Fox Sports from rounds 6–13 and have just 3 matches from rounds 3–20 on free-to-air.
You can see our full NRL schedule for viewing details for every single match and broadcast details.
Teams most affected by revamped NRL draw
Some coaches and NRL executives had called for the NRL to restart the competition with all teams on zero points as the new draw is entirely different to the previous one. When the NRL met with its broadcasters and worked towards restarting the competition, they didn't just wipe five existing rounds off the schedule, it was a complete revamp.
This meant that some teams were affected more than others. Here are the graphics we had at the start of the season so you can compare which teams had some good fortune and those that didn't.
Teams most clearly affected include the Tigers, Dragons, Manly and Sharks who all had five or more fixtures cut from free-to-air. Amazingly even with the competition being reduced by five weeks, the Eels and Knights managed to add to their Channel Nine totals by one and two matches respectively.
What if you're overseas?
If you're across the ditch in New Zealand, NRL games are broadcast via Sky Sport. Then from almost anywhere else in the world, excluding the Pacific Islands, you can stream every game overseas live via Watch NRL.
Watch NRL gets you access to every NRL match, State of Origin, tournaments such as the NRL 9s live and shows like Sunday Night with Matty Johns.
Image source: Kayo Sports website
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