CRICKET Australia is reportedly set to give Channel Nine the flick in favour of a bumper Foxtel offer said to be worth at least $1 billion over the next six years.
The reported move means Nine will lose broadcasting rights to the pay-TV provider who was said to be in talks with Channel Seven and Channel Ten overnight on who will partner its bid, according to the Financial Review.
Nine has held the rights for the past 40 years and its five-year deal worth $500 million with Cricket Australia is now up, with reports it is losing more than $30 million a year on international cricket.
Due to anti-siphoning laws Foxtel cannot hold sole rights because major international cricket must be shown on free-to-air television.
A deal could be announced as soon as Friday.
Cricket Australia said it would not comment on speculation.
Under the proposed terms, Seven or Ten would buy Nine’s Test matches and some of the domestic Big Bash League, currently with Ten.
Foxtel, majority owned by News Corp, publisher of news.com.au, would have exclusive rights to some BBL matches as well as simulcast rights for live Tests and international limited-overs matches, The Australian reports.
Nine recently won the rights to broadcast tennis in Australia for $60 million a year, a clear sign its interest in cricket was fading, The Courier-Mail said.
The Nine Network was urged by bankers last year to end its long-time cricket coverage due to estimated $30-40 million annual losses.
“The existing cricket deal costs Nine circa $100 million per annum,” UBS media analyst Eric Choi wrote in note to clients. “We estimate the existing deal likely only generates gross revenues of $60-$70 million.
“We are not concerned that there will be a lack of interest for our media rights,” the body’s broadcasting manager Ben Amarfio told Fairfax Media at the time. “Live sport, and cricket in particular, continues to be a premium asset.”
Channel Ten secured the new TV rights deal to the BBL in 2013 when it agreed to pay $20 million a year.
— with Warren Barnsley, AAP