The NRL has officially gone global, with a massive marketing campaign reaching New York’s famous Time Square alongside rumors of plans to buy the English Super League and bring more games to the United States.
As the countdown continues to the NRL’s historic season-opening double-header at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on March 2, the promotion took it up a notch with a giant 3D/AR football on display in Times Square on Friday .
It is the NRL’s boldest marketing campaign to date, and an estimated 50 million tourists pass through Times Square each year.
“Rugby League, the biggest sport in the world in the middle of smoke,” posted one fan.
‘Times Square never looked so good. A beautiful thing,” responded another.
‘Where and how to watch the league here in the United States?’ asked an interested American.
The 3D/augmented reality NRL ball in Times Square in New York City to promote upcoming games in Las Vegas
The Brisbane Broncos and Sydney Roosters are two of four NRL clubs kicking off the season in Las Vegas.
Thousands of Australians travel to the United States for the doubleheader where they will be joined by thousands of curious American spectators.
More than 30,000 tickets have already been sold for the NRL double-header between the Brisbane Broncos, Sydney Roosters, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Manly Sea Eagles, with late marketing boosting hopes of bringing thousands more to Las Vegas.
ARLC President Peter V’landys is hopeful the tactic will generate a new audience in the United States along with a new international betting market.
‘It’s a great strategy, it’s a big risk. I’m not hiding from that,” V’landys said. ‘However, the return will be significant if we achieve it. It could be a game-changer, not just for rugby league, but for all sports in Australia.
‘If we can get one percent of the market in the United States… that’s three million subscribers. That’s $650 million in additional revenue.
The next step could be to bring UK-based Super League teams to the United States, with news corporation reporting that the NRL is considering buying the English competition.
The NRL has become a cash cow under V’Landy, earning more than $700 million in 2023, including profits of $58 million, while the league also has $260 million in assets.
ARLC president Peter V’landys wants to turn the NRL into a billion-dollar global industry
The Wigan Warriors could be one of the next clubs to travel to the United States to try to create a market in America
V’Landys has ambitions to turn the NRL into a billion-dollar industry, reportedly including Super League in a move that allows players to move between competitions mid-season.
It’s a move that TV and rugby league great Matthew Johns has backed.
“The rumor I’m hearing, and it’s been discussed a little bit, but it’s getting louder, is that the NRL is seriously considering buying English rugby league,” Johns said.
“(They) will make it a winter sport again in England, and in that way, it broadens the base and adds depth to both competitions because players can go and have guest seasons.
“One of the things that really helped the game there (in the 1980s) was people like Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny, Phil Blake and those lads who went there and had short spells with Wigan, Leeds and Castleford.
‘Let’s imagine if the Roosters are faced with the situation of letting Joey Manu go to French rugby or if we let him go and spend a season at Castleford. It is an opportunity for players to really optimize their income while playing.
“It helps the English game doubly with the fact that Wigan send their players as guests, but the other thing that helps them is that guys like Jack Welsby (St Helens defender) can get their NRL fix and go out and prove it.” . themselves, but are still part of the English competition.
Matthew Johns supports the rumored push to buy the English Super League and said it would pave the way for NRL players to also have short stints in the UK.
That move would also likely mean Super League teams playing matches in the United States, to take advantage of the huge UK tourism numbers traveling to North America each year.
‘Research has shown that the biggest travelers are English. Bringing a Super League game there would also lead to a lot more people coming from England to the United States,” Vlandys said.
There are also plans to bring NRLW games to the United States in the future.
“Nick (Politis, Sydney Roosters president) said, ‘You’ve got a unique situation with women’s football.’ Why wouldn’t you bring a women’s game to the United States?” V’landys told NRL.com.
“That would take our game to another level, especially considering how good they are.”