- Seven and Foxtel have won the Cricket Australia rights to broadcast the sport
- The six-year deal ends 40-plus years of Nine’s Wide World of Sports being ‘the home of cricket’
- The announcement comes just a fortnight after Nine won the rights to tennis in Australia from Seven
Nine’s dominance of cricket broadcasting in Australia, dating back to the days of Kerry Packer and World Series Cricket, has been stumped.
Seven West Media (SWM) has just informed the ASX that Cricket Australia has awarded the TV rights to Foxtel and Seven in a six-year deal believed to be worth nearly $1 billion.
The deal means Ten also loses the Big Bash League broadcasting rights.
The switch has created the biggest shakeup in sports broadcasting in Australia in four decades after cricket and tennis administrators swapped sides, replacing the two long-term incumbents for their rivals.
The poaching of cricket from Nine comes just weeks after Nine took tennis and the Australian Open from Seven in a $300 million, five-year deal that ended Seven’s 40-year dominance of the sport.
Nine Entertainment’s right to broadcast tennis played in Australia runs from 2020 to 2024.
Seven told the ASX that in response to media speculation earlier today, it was informed by Cricket Australia that it was the successful bidder with Foxtel, but contacts are still be finalised and are expected to be signed this afternoon.
Cricket Australia has yet to make a statement.
The AFR reported earlier today that Seven is likely to broadcast Test matches and some Big Bash League games, while Foxtel will have the rights to every match, including simulcasting Seven’s broadcasts.
However, the international limited overs games – both 50-over and Twenty20 – will air exclusively on Foxtel, meaning the game Packer and Nine created in 1977 as World Series Cricket (WSC) will disappear from free-to-air TV.
Nine still has the rights to the next Australian Ashes tour of the UK, as well as One Day Internationals there, both in 2019, as well as the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.
In a statement, Nine Entertainment Co. said it was “immensely proud of our decades long association between Wide World of Sports and the game of cricket in this country. We wish Cricket Australia and its new broadcast partners well for the future success of the game.”
And in an indication of the company’s new focus, it added: “Most of all Nine is excited by our new partnership with Tennis Australia. A partnership that enables us to further evolve our business model into a new future. A partnership built on common values and vision to mutually build the game and Nine’s business as we connect with more audiences the way they choose.”
Network Ten CEO Paul Anderson said the company was disappointed its bid for the cricket TV rights was rejected, but was “proud of everything we achieved with the BBL and WBBL”.
“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,” he said.
“Network Ten and our BBL team led by David Barham revolutionised the way cricket is broadcast in Australia and attracted new, younger viewers to the game. At the same time, we invested heavily in the Women’s Big Bash League, broadcasting matches in prime time for the first time and raising its profile significantly.”
Seven West Media’s share price opened the day at $0.55 before dropping 1 cent briefly, the returning to the opening price by 11am.