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Volume 6 No. 263


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).

BT Sport "is to reunite veteran sports broadcasters Danny Baker and Danny Kelly to front a new Friday night football show on its TV service," according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. The duo have worked together on football shows on numerous occasions over the past 20 years, most famously on BBC Radio 5 Live, "and will be reunited for Baker and Kelly's Sporting Phone Out." The live show will air on Friday evenings for 40 weeks with the first set to air on Aug. 16, the day before the next Premier League season kicks off. BT Sport describes the hour-long show as "original, unpredictable, football-themed entertainment with audience participation" using phone, text, email and social media (GUARDIAN, 6/3).

Horse racing pundit John McCririck Monday launched a £3M ($4.6M) age discrimination claim "against his former employers, Channel 4," according to Mike Dawes of the London DAILY MAIL. The 73-year-old claims that "he was sacked from Channel 4 Racing last October without any explanation because they wanted to hire someone younger." He is now suing the broadcaster and IMG Sports Media, "which took over production of the broadcaster's racing coverage" from the start of '13, for £2.5M ($3.8M) in punitive damages. A further £500,000 ($767,400) in compensation "is being sought for loss of future earnings, unfair career damaging, public humiliation, stress and mental anguish." Channel 4, IMG Sports Media, Exec Producer Carl Hicks, CEO David Abraham, Channel 4 Sports Editor Jamie Aitchison and Channel 4 Chief Creative Jay Hunt "are all listed as respondents to the claim" (DAILY MAIL, 6/3).

German public broadcaster ZDF "has obtained top ratings for its broadcast of the international friendly between the German national football team and the U.S.," according to Sidney Schering of QUOTENMETER. A total of 8.81 million viewers tuned in to watch the game from Washington D.C.'s RFK Stadium. Germany's 4-3 loss recorded a 26.1% market share on Sunday evening. In the target age demographic of 14-49, the game, which started at 8:40pm German time, attracted 2.96 million viewers and "reached a fantastic 21.8% share" (QUOTENMETER, 6/3).

DWDL's Alexander Krei reported pan-European sports broadcaster Eurosport "has received high ratings for its broadcast of the European Handball Federation final between HSV Hamburg and FC Barcelona." A total of 730,000 viewers tuned in to watch Hamburg win the European handball crown on Sunday. The game had a market share of 3%. The peak moment was shortly after 8pm German time when almost 1.2 million viewers watched the broadcast (DWDL, 6/3).

BBL PLAYOFFS: DWDL's Krei also reported German free-to-air TV channel Sport1 "recorded above average ratings for its broadcast of the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) semifinal match between Bayern Munich and Brose Baskets Bamberg on Sunday." A total of 370,000 viewers tuned in to watch game four. In the target demographic 14-49, Sport1 reached a 2.2% market share. In its key demographic, males from 14-49, Sport1 obtained a 3.2% share, which is a new best for the channel's BBL broadcasts. Bayern's 80-71 victory attracted a peak audience of 500,000 viewers. The best-of-five series is now tied at two games apiece (DWDL, 6/3).

German pay-TV channel Sky "will show the European Tour's BMW International Open from the golf club Munich-Eichenried starting on June 20" (DWDL, 6/3). ... German pay-TV channel sportdigital "is reportedly interested in acquiring sports rights from folding U.S. sports channel ESPN America." Sportdigital "has already secured the domain name" Besides sportdigital, pan-European broadcaster Eurosport "is also interested in ESPN America's European sports rights" (DWDL, 6/3). ... Both of England rugby's Test matches against Argentina in June will be broadcast live on the BBC. England will face the Pumas Saturday and June 15 at 8:10pm local time on BBC Two (BBC, 5/30).