Seven, Foxtel pay $1.2bn on cricket rights
The Seven Network and Foxtel have secured Australian cricket media rights in a blockbuster $1.182 billion deal that positions both for future growth and ends the Nine Network's four-decade hold on the sport.
Seven will pay $450 million over the six-year deal to broadcast all home Test matches and 43 Big Bash League games.
Foxtel has paid almost $670 million for a portfolio that includes all digital rights, simulcasts of free-to-air games and exclusive rights to one-day and T20 International games, plus 16 BBL matches.
Seven West Media chief executive Tim Worner said the lure to advertisers of all home Tests and 43 BBL matches meant cricket rights were far more cost effective than the Australian Open tennis that Seven last month lost to Nine.
Mr Worner said adding a summer of cricket to the network's AFL winter coverage meant Seven now had a year-round audience that it could tout to advertisers.
"It's going to guarantee us audiences for the next five years," Mr Worner said on Friday.
"I can't tell you what Married at First Sight or My Kitchen Rules will be rating in a few years but I do know roughly what Collingwood versus Adelaide will be rating at tonight and I can tell you it will be rating that well, if not better, in five years."
Foxtel will launch a dedicated Fox Cricket channel as part of preparations for the upcoming stock market listing of the new company created by Foxtel's merger with Fox Sports.
Australian women's internationals and 23 WBBL matches will be shown on both pay-TV and free-to-air.
Nine has admitted to losing money on last summer's Ashes but Mr Worner said the deal was still a good one.
He said Seven was gaining about 70 days' worth of premium sport, compared to the 14 days of the Australian Open for which Nine agreed to pay $300 million.
"This is a much better deal for Seven West Media than what we had with tennis," Mr Worner said.
"You just need to look at the number of hours we are getting, but also that so many of those hours are daytime hours but you get to charge prime-time rates for them."
Investors seemed to agree and Seven West shares closed up 6.5 cents, or 12.6 per cent, at 58 cents, while Nine's finished flat at $2.25.
Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delaney said the pay network now had a strong sports line-up year-round.
"Businesses to list need to be growing; we will be growing," he said.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland had "nothing but gratitude and respect" for Nine and Ten's work to grow cricket audiences.
Nine said it was "immensely proud" of its long association with cricket while CBS-owned Ten admitted it was disappointed that its bid - a joint effort with Nine - had been rejected.
Nine said the rights loss will have no impact on its 2018 financial results, but did not speculate on the effect after that.
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