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SBD Global/June 4, 2013/Media

Australia's Channel Nine Retains Cricket TV Rights For Next Five Years In $440M Deal

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Channel Nine will pay $440M to retain cricket rights.
Australia's Channel Nine "has officially retained the rights to broadcast international cricket in Australia for the next five years," according to Chris Barrett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. In the richest TV agreement in the game's history, Nine will pay "in the region" of A$450M ($440M) in cash and contra advertising to televise home int'l matches between November and February. Nine trumped Network Ten "by exercising its last-rights privilege from its previous contract with Cricket Australia." Staff at the network were told earlier on Monday that the network "had kept the coverage of the cricket." The new deal "will be formally announced by CA in Melbourne on Tuesday afternoon." Ten, which had lodged a huge A$550M bid to cover int'l games and the Twenty20 Big Bash League, "have snatched the short-format competition" for $20M a year over five years, taking it to free-to-air TV from its previous rights holder, Fox Sports (SMH, 6/3). In another piece, Barrett reported Channel Nine "is expecting a greater say in scheduling of international cricket matches." Having agreed to dish out A$80M a year -- an increase of nearly 80% on their previous yearly payment of A$45M -- Nine is "expecting more say in scheduling." While the itinerary for this summer's home Ashes series against England has been announced, Nine "would have preferred the first Test to be held in Perth, rather than Brisbane, to allow it to capitalise on the prime-time ratings season boost the western time zone would provide." Nine sources said that the network "had reached an agreement to have increased power in scheduling." However, a Cricket Australia source said that the broadcaster "would have no greater influence." TV "blackouts," where the broadcast in the host city is delayed during a day's play in an attempt to drive local ticket sales, "may be scrapped." Just how the sport's governing body plans to spend its inflated TV revenue "is yet to be confirmed." However, CEO James Sutherland is "ready to have the CA board tick off on a series of major projects that would pour millions into cricket facilities, junior development and diversity pathways" (SMH, 6/4).

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Also in Sydney, Peter Lalor reported Cricket Australia's latest broadcast rights deal "is good news for free-to-air fans, a blow to pay television and a windfall when the game most needs it." Players, too, "will get a significant pay rise." The A$550M offered by Nine and Ten is about $120M "more than projected by Cricket Australia." While both deals "contain a significant amount of contra," cricket's coffers will be boosted by about A$480M in cash over the five-year period. Cricket Australia's Media Rights GM Stephanie Beltrame and lawyer Dean Kino "have been working on the deal and landed an enormous windfall for the game when there had been speculation in some quarters that the cash-strapped broadcast industry would not come to the party" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/4).
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