Australian Seven West Media Wins Domestic Rights To Top Football Matches
Seven West Media has netted the domestic broadcast rights for two "star-studded football matches" featuring ManU and Liverpool to be played in Australia, "as Ten Network's bid for Cricket Australia's media rights prompts soul-searching at rival Nine Network," according to Darren Davidson of THE AUSTRALIAN. Seven West Media Chair Kerry Stokes's company is understood to have acquired the rights to the A-League All Stars game against ManU and Melbourne Victory's match with Liverpool, "both to be played in July." Seven paid close to A$1M ($976,000) for the two-game package "after Fox Sports and Ten Network showed early interest but decided against making a firm offer." Media buyers said that advertisers "would pay a premium to advertise during the ad breaks in the one-off matches, which have already sold out." Seven "will screen the match on its primary channel, its digital channel 7mate, online, and on tablets and mobile devices" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 5/24). In Melbourne, Tom Smithies wrote it means "an A-League presence on free-to-air TV for the first time since Channel Ten showed David Beckham's LA Galaxy against Sydney FC" in '07 (HERALD SUN, 5/23).
TOUGH DECISION: Also in Melbourne, Robert Craddock wrote Channel Nine CEO David Gyngell "faces one of his biggest calls after being advised by key shareholders to drop out of the bidding for Australian cricket rights." Gyngell's sentimental link to Nine's 36-year hold on the rights "has become the pivotal factor of the final days of a protracted bidding war between channels Nine and Ten." Two U.S.-based hedge funds that are Nine's key shareholders believe that "the station should withdraw from the bidding" rather than match Ten's A$500M bid for the rights to int'l and domestic cricket. Such has been the ferocity of the bidding war that the station who gets the rights "will make a substantial annual loss, though the promotion of other programs and the status of being the national cricket broadcaster is significant compensation" (HERALD SUN, 5/24).