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Abdo: Kayo deal a win for fans as Telstra adjusts streaming approach

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has described a new partnership with Kayo Sports to stream live matches via the NRL App as a "win for the fans" as they will now be able to watch games on any device of their choosing.

Kayo, which is owned by Foxtel, will replace Telstra Live Pass in the NRL Official App but fans will still be able to access all of the content created by NRL Digital, including news, video panel shows, match highlights and team lists, while being able to stream games on their television, computer or tablet.

In the past, Telstra Live Pass subscribers have only been able to watch matches through the NRL App on their mobile phones.

"We know that about three million fans travel to the NRL Digital network every week to absorb our sport," Abdo said.

"Today's announcement is an opportunity to provide those fans with even more content and what we are so excited about is that they now get more flexibility.

"They are no longer locked to a screen of a certain size and they are no longer locked to different platforms and different contexts. They can watch it how they want to watch it and when they want to watch it. This a win for the fans."

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The change comes after Telstra's decision to adjust its approach on sports streaming, from delivering the stream itself to helping NRL fans access Kayo's multi-screen, multi-sport product.

Telstra will also continue its 20-year relationship as the NRL major sponsor, a partnership which last year was extended to the NRLW.

Existing Live Pass subscribers and Telstra customers will be offered access to Kayo at reduced rates through the NRL App, which Abdo said would otherwise be unchanged.

"It is a great partnership because what it does is provide content for our fans which we know they enjoy; whether it is getting the ladder, whether it is getting news or whether it is getting highlights," Abdo said.

"With Kayo being integrated into the app we know that a lot of fans, particularly around the weekends or match day, flock to the app to get information about their teams and now they will be able to transition to Kayo from there and come back into the app to get information after that.

"Whether they play Fantasy, whether they are in a tipping competition or whether they are just interested in which stars performed best the app is a great way to access a whole bunch of information and the Live Pass is now just transitioning to a Kayo player.

"It very much is about servicing our fans needs well beyond just the live match."

The change follows the ARLC's extension of the NRL broadcast rights deals with Fox Sports and Foxtel until 2027 and reflects the shift in the way that fans consume sport that has occurred since Telstra successfully launched the NRL Live Pass in 2014.

Further changes to sports broadcasting are likely, with Kayo to begin broadcasting some sports content for free, while Nine has entered the sport streaming market with the launch of Stan Sport.

Foxtel Group CEO Patrick Delaney said Kayo's integration into the NRL App was an exciting move.

"We have created a great product in Kayo, streaming 50 sports live, including the NRL action," Delaney said.

"From our perspective the competition has always been how quickly can we transform our business model and there is a lot that we have learned over the last three years in terms of the 50 sports and which ones work, and what appetite Australian consumers have.

"I think if you match that up with a lot of the strategic positioning that we have been doing – the Kayo Freebies is very much about keeping subscribers engaged when they pause their subscription and it means that if we can't find a free-to-air partner or the deal is not appropriate, we have got the Freebies.

"There will be more announcements about that. It means that we can really aggressively move forward with growth."

Telstra CEO Andy Penn said his organisation was proud to support the NRL and would continue working with the game to leverage the latest innovation and technology.

“With the Live Pass we were really restricted to being able to make that available on a mobile phone stream and even when we could put it on an iPad we were still limited so we are now able to with the Kayo app to make that available whether it is on a tablet or a mobile phone or a big screen at home," Penn said.