Nine and Ten could yet retain Australian cricket rights
Australian free-to-air commercial broadcasters Nine Network and Ten Network have put forward an increased new bid worth A$900 million ($690 million) to keep the rights to international and domestic cricket played in the country for the next six years, according to reports.
If accepted, the deal, equating to A$150 million per annum, would ensure that Australia’s home matches and the Big Bash League, the inter-city Twenty20 competition, would remain accessible to all television viewers.
This coming Friday is the deadline for new bids to be submitted, and the broadcasters are awaiting negotiations.
Last month, Cricket Australia issued the rights invitation to tender, comprising 11 packages, setting an initial deadline of 19 March for bids to be submitted.
However, the governing body subsequently asked for new offers amid reports that it was dissatisfied with a joint proposal from Nine and Ten worth no more than A$130 million per year.
The broadcasters’ previous five-year deal, which expired at the end of the 2017-18 season, was worth A$590 million, of which Nine paid A$490 million for the Australia matches and Ten A$100 million for the BBL.
The new bid, submitted last Thursday, entails Nine retaining rights to home test matches, while Ten would show all games in the one-day international and Twenty20 international formats, plus the BBL, according to the Australian Financial Review.
Ten was quoted saying it was considering a partnership “which may include cricket beyond the highly successful Big Bash League,” but Nine has yet to comment on the reported new offer.
However, Nine is understood to be prepared to cut back its cricket output having secured the rights to tennis’ Australian Open for five years starting in 2020 in a deal worth A$300 million.
Seven Network, which currently shows the grand slam tournament, is also thought to be in the mix for cricket rights.
The interest of Foxtel, the Australian pay-television operator, and Fox Sports, the subscription broadcaster, which are in the process of merging, appears to have cooled, with majority owner News Corporation denying claims that the pair submitted a bid worth A$800 million over five years.
It was reported at the end of last week that Foxtel and Fox Sports had withdrawn from negotiations, but they could yet come back to the table.
Cricket Australia is expected to retain digital rights to market separately.
The governing body was thought to be targeting up to A$200 million per year from its media rights in the next cycle, but will have been concerned about the impact of a recent ball-tampering scandal involving the Australian men's team, which has resulted in bans for three players, including captain Steve Smith, and the loss of several sponsorship deals.