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22 Apr 2018, Edition - 1013, Sunday


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Nine loses Australian cricket rights as Foxtel and Seven land $1.182bn deal

The Guardian

Image credit : Illustrative image

Australia’s home limited-overs cricket internationals will go behind a paywall for the first time under a landmark $1.182bn, six-year broadcast rights deal. Cricket Australia confirmed the deal struck with the Seven Network and Fox Sports on Friday, which means the end of four decades of the Australian summer of cricket on the Nine Network.

The Ten Network has lost the coveted rights to the Big Bash League, while Tests and 43 of the 59 BBL matches will be simulcast between Fox Sports and Seven. Fox Sports will exclusively showcase home international one-day and Twenty20 matches, along with the remaining 16 games of the BBL as part of a dedicated cricket channel during summer.

In total, about 80% of all international cricket will still be available via free-to-air, with CA still trumpeting more cricket content will be available on commercial networks than ever before.

The joint deal with free-to-air and pay TV complies with Australia’s anti-siphoning rules and follows the lead of a number of other cricket nations including England, India, South Africa and New Zealand. It is understood the majority of funds for the deal are coming from Fox Sports, who have also picked up the digital rights to the home summer.

Seven last broadcast elite cricket in 2005 when they showed the away one-day series that preceded the away Ashes, as part of a deal with English and Wales Cricket Board.

Channel Nine have the rights to next year’s away Ashes series, as well as the 2019 one-day World Cup in England and the home World Twenty20 in 2020, under an agreement with the International Cricket Council. Nine’s loss of home cricket comes after it secured the rights to the Australian summer of tennis from Seven, beginning from 2020.

Meanwhile, Ten made their disappointment clear, after having played a significant role in the growth of BBL ratings and crowd figures during their four-year deal.

“We are disappointed that our bid for the cricket television rights was rejected,” chief executive Paul Anderson said in a statement. “Network Ten turned the Big Bash League into the television phenomenon it is today and one of the most popular sports in Australia, a sport that all Australians were able enjoy for free. We had planned to extend that innovation to other forms of the game.”

Regardless, the new rights deal is a coup for CA, especially after fears the ball-tampering saga in South Africa would directly impact on the negotiations. The deal represents a 67% financial increase on the previous deal, which is believed to have been worth $600m over five years.