Inside Fox League: Selling the channel with MCN’s Martin Medcraf

Mediaweek speaks with the man driving Fox League’s sponsorship and ad dollars

Martin Medcraf

The key contact at MCN guiding the flow of sponsorship and ad dollars to Fox Sports told Mediaweek he has wanted an NRL channel for as long as the NRL has. The NRL CEO Todd Greenberg revealed he had been asking Fox Sports for a dedicated channel for some time.

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“We have been anticipating and planning the sales launch for a year after the rights to every NRL game were obtained too late to put it into action for 2016.

“We had great success in AFL with the Fox Footy channel so we have been looking forward to the February 27 launch for a long time.”

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Martin Medcraf and his MCN colleagues are able to use some of the case studies and successful outcomes advertising partners have had at Fox Footy. “Since 2012 clients have been able to do great things with their brands via Fox Footy. There is a big client base that wants the similar male demographic we offer via Fox Footy for the NRL states of New South Wales and Queensland. We can offer the same sort of deep NRL integration people are getting on Fox Footy. There are a lot of learnings we are taking from Fox Footy. However they are two distinctly different channels.

“We now offer a very strong national reach with both – the two biggest sporting codes in Australia now have their own 24/7 channels.”

As the channel launches, Fox Sports will have 25 different clients sponsoring different days and timeslots on Fox League. “The sponsorship packages range from individual magazine shows through to the four separate game days Thursday to Sunday.”

And get this – Fox League has sold the naming rights to each game day.

Schick has signed up for Thursday night’s game, Bundaberg Rum has the triple header on Saturdays – Bundy Saturday – and KFC has taken the naming rights for Sunday’s double header. The only day unconfirmed at press time was the Friday double header, but a deal was close to being announced this week.

In addition to naming rights for each day, there are also sponsors for those four game days too. On Bundy Saturday for example, five separate advertisers will sponsor the coverage.

Most Fox League advertisers have already had a relationship with Fox Sports, but Medcraf indicated some of them had upgraded their spend considerably.

Although AFL is a bigger code in terms of a national competition, Medcraf noted the activeness of the NRL being headquartered in Sydney and therefore its corporate support. The NRL is a big driver for Foxtel subscriptions too with the platform’s association going back to the days of the Super League.

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Advertisers are warming to the magazine shows across the week – six of them brand new. “Some of the advertisers have jumped straight in, while some want to wait for the results for programs like Queenslanders Only and the all-women panel on League Life.”

Medcraf wouldn’t be drawn on who might win the ratings between Fox Footy and Fox League. What he would say was: “I won’t put a figure on it, but we expect Fox League to outrate Fox Sports 1 last year, which performed very well as the home of the 2016 NRL games.” Medcraf did note the rivalry between the two codes and how all the EPs of the various shows are rightly very proud of the content they produce.

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