THE RFL has defended its decision to stream live England’s game against Samoa next month, demanding a fee through its own website rather than airing it on the BBC.
The Test, in Sydney on Saturday, May 6 (10.30am), is the only fixture for Wayne Bennett’s side before the World Cup in October.
The BBC made an offer to broadcast it but the RFL has deemed that “unacceptable” and will, instead, charge £3.49 for fans wanting to watch it on www.rugby-league.com
Critics argue the governing body has missed a golden chance to boost the profile of the sport and attract new audiences.
But RFL chief commercial officer and Super League executive director Roger Draper said: “For this game, we entered into conversation with a number of organisations interested in buying the broadcast rights.
“However, the terms offered were not considered acceptable. We value the rights for our national team significantly higher than any of the offers and therefore felt the right decision for this Test was to take it into our own hands and stream the game.
“The way in which people watch sport is changing and we know that there is significant demand to watch rugby league and particularly our national team.
“This one-off game also gives us the perfect opportunity to test and learn more about the market for live streaming as we begin to prepare for the future landscape of sports broadcasting and how rugby league can best take advantage of it.”
The game will be available for free to any fan who buys a ticket for the Dacia Magic Weekend before 10:30am on May 5.
The RFL added it has secured deals to show all England’s World Cup games in 2017 and 2021 live on terrestrial television.