NRL Press Conference
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 03: Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V'landys speaks to the media during a NRL press conference at Rugby League Central on September 03, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Channel Nine and Fox Sports have been the NRL's broadcasters for decades, but that could be all about to change.

While the current TV deal is still in place, Channel Seven are reportedly considering throwing their hat into the ring.

While it's understood Nine and Fox Sports are still the frontrunners in the battle for the NRL TV rights, the subject of what to pay has become one of interest.

TV rights for Australian sport have become hyperinflated over the years, with both the NRL and AFL having monster TV deals, while Channel Seven's issues with the cricket have also been well publicised over the course of the last two years.

The coronavirus pandemic has only made life tougher on broadcasters.

So advanced are the discussions that, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report, the free to air TV network have already reached out to Fox Sports about a partnership.

That partnership would allow them to broadcast State of Origin and a handful of matches per week, while Fox Sports may also be able to play a number of club games through their free service, "Kayo Freebies."

The reports suggest Seven Media boss James Warburton has already opened discussions with Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'Landys over what Seven would be willing to bring to the game, both in terms of exposure, and in terms of money.

Channel Ten were also rumoured to be interested in the NRL rights, although their position is unknown.

Further complicating matters for the NRL is that the next collective bargaining agreement will be due for renewal in 2023, while a 17th team will also enter the competition, adding more games over the course of the season, particularly around the State of Origin period, where ordinarily there is an entire week off for the competition, as well as two other weeks with just four games.

It's understood that will be a thing of the past, with 17 teams allowing all clubs to serve their byes during the course of the regular season.

A second club in the Brisbane region, likely the Redcliffe Dolphins, could also add value to the next TV deal, with it being unclear which networks may be willing to splash the cash to have top flight rugby league on their TV screens.

It's understood the NRL would like to announce a new free to air TV deal by the end of the month.