Nine chief executive Hugh Marks has demanded that the NRL reduce its broadcast rights fee, stating that it could force the network to end the long-standing relationship between themselves and the code.
COVID-19 has created many problems throughout the sporting world, none more so than in rugby league.
Having halted the season after round 2, the NRL is steamrolling ahead with their May 28 restart date but have encountered many issues along the way, especially with one of their broadcasters Channel 9.
As the competition's governing body, Nine and Fox Sports discuss broadcasting rights for this reduced season and the following years, the free-to-air network has continued to play hardball with the code.
"It's not a given that NRL has to be part of our future," Marks said at the Macquarie Australia Conference 2020.
"It has to just pay its way like all of our content does, and if it doesn't, well ... again, we are less reliant on that as a revenue source."
Though the Herald has stated that the broadcaster wants to pay even less but are willing to provide the NRL with an extended rights deal until the end of 2025, securing the game's long-term future.
"COVID has changed how you need to consider sports rights and evaluation of sports rights for the future," Marks said.
"If we don't take that change now like we are in all other aspects of our business and we wait until the contract expires in two years ... everyone's in for a rude shock in two years.
"We're a business that actually is now less reliant on live sport and the reason for a lot of sport and it's being was its volume contribution to free-to-air advertising."