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RUMOUR: Pressure mounts on NRL Footy Show

OpinionKevin Perry

image source - Nine Network

It may be a regular Logie winner as Australia’s most popular sports program, but rumours are circulating Nine is deeply concerned with the performance of the NRL Footy Show and is about to act.

Under the new NRL Rights Deal, 2016 has seen Nine commence broadcasting regular Thursday Night NRL games, this meant The Footy Show found a new home at 8:30pm Wednesday, but ratings have been a disappointment with last week's program averaging just 228,000 viewers across Sydney and Brisbane.

The upcoming State of Origin matches will provide Nine an opportunity to move The Footy Show back to its more traditional Thursday home. If the shows ratings remain stable during this period then a timeslot immediately after the Thursday night games could become permanent.

A spokesperson for the Nine Network has denied the suggestion that The Footy Show is likely to be moved, however this website understands management at Nine Melbourne is partially keen to seen the network return to a national programming strategy on Wednesday nights. The move of the NRL Footy Show to Wednesdays this year has seen southern states saddled with a range of poor quality alternative programming. Last week 'The Secret Life of the Zoo' had a staggering low average audience of 198,000 across Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

It will be a challenging decision for Nine to move the NRL Footy Show into a later timeslot. With programming budgets getting tighter, Free-to-Air networks are increasingly reluctant to invest in programming after 9:30pm. Much of the advertising across the AFL and NRL Footy Shows' is sold nationally, meaning it’s important to the network that both programs survive.

Increased competition from a range of Fox Sports NRL panel programs is being blamed for the decline of The Footy Show. This competition will only get more intense with Fox Sports preparing to launch a dedicated NRL channel in 2017.