Cricket Australia is understood to be close to finalizing a new mega broadcast rights deal that will see Australia’s favorite summer sport remain with existing rights holders Foxtel, News Corp, and Channel 7.
the SMH is reporting the new 7-year deal is expected to be worth around $1.4 billion in cash and contra, or approximately $210 million per year.
If correct, the figure would mark a slight increase from the $197 million agreed upon in 2018. But would be considered a considerable win for Cricket Australia after ratings declines and with the next broadcast deal expected to include a significant reduction in Big Bash matches played each season.
Should Foxtel and Channel 7 renew its deal with Cricket Australia, it will be a significant blow for Paramount (Channel 10) once again failing to secure a Tier 1 sport despite being the largest financial bidder.
Over the past month, News Corp has regularly used its publishing outlets to mock the Paramount+/Channel 10 bid.
It’s a tactic that has had the dual purpose of demoralizing 10 and reminding Cricket Australia it would be a risky move to make an enemy out of News Corp.
Blackbox TV understands Cricket Australia was ultimately unwilling to risk moving the bulk of its sporting product onto the largely untested and problematic Paramount+ streaming platform.
Cricket Australia fearing such a move could see the once dominant Big Bash, Twenty20 and One Day International competitions relegated as third-tier sports attracting audience levels similar to A League and NBL Basketball.
Cricket Australia is instead expected to back the Foxtel Group which currently has a paid subscriber base of 4.4 million customers, including a dedicated sport-loving fan base of 1,259 million Kayo subscribers and a network of screens in pubs and clubs across the country.
Blackbox TV understands a significant stumbling block throughout the negotiation process has been CA’s desire to maintain digital rights to the competition for use on its own Cricket Australia website and social media platforms.
Broadcasters are understood to be extremely unhappy with the prospect of having to pay a premium price for the sport and then having to compete against Cricket Australia digital platforms for the limited available sports advertising dollar.
Channel 7 is expected to secure free-to-air simulcast rights for all Test Matches, and a select number of Big Bash matches under the new deal. The new agreement is expected to allow Seven to stream live cricket coverage on its advertiser-supported, free streaming platform 7Plus for the first time.
Channel 7 is currently involved in Federal Court action against Cricket Australia due to a belief the sporting body has failed to schedule and promote the Big Bash competition properly.
Any new broadcast contract agreement between the two bodies will include additional safeguards to avoid such issues.
Negotiations for the new cricket broadcast agreement have been taking place over the past month with the process described by one key party as “shit” and “very disorganized”.
Cricket Australia had attempted to draw Channel 9 into the bidding process, but TV Blackbox understands these talks failed to proceed with Fox Sports reluctant to form a partnership with Nine due to its ownership of the rival Stan Sports product.
A formal announcement on the new deal is now not expected until the new year with Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley telling SEN Test Cricket radio coverage Tuesday morning:
“I can’t talk about commercially confidential discussions but what I will say is discussions are progressing very well and hopefully we’ll have some announcements to be made in the not too distant future,”
we are working to the best deal we can in the best interests of Australian cricket,”
“There’s a lot to work through. There’s no fixed timeline, but discussions are progressing well.”
“We’ve had really strong interest throughout the process from all parties.
I think what we saw yesterday we’ve seen over a million people come through the gates to watch international cricket this year and the interest we’ve seen and the spirit of the discussions is reflective of the fact cricket is our national sport and our only truly national and international spot,” the CEO stated.
“I think Boxing Day, there’s no better picture to demonstrate that. After play, we led straight into two fantastic last-over finishes with the Big Bash.
“The discussions have been really positive.”