Australia news

Channel Ten makes bold play for TV rights

Daniel Brettig

May 8, 2013

Comments: 74 | Text size: A | A

Tony Greig, Mark Taylor, Richie Benaud, Ian Chappell and Bill Lawry, Channel 9 commentators, attend the launch of the Ashes, Sydney, November 16, 2010
The Channel Nine commentary team has been a fixture on Australian television for more than 30 years © Getty Images
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Channel Nine may be closer to losing the television rights to international cricket in Australia than at any time in the past 33 years, after their rival Ten made a bold combined bid for both international and BBL matches as a way to revitalise the recently moribund network.

Following the conclusion of an exclusive negotiating period between Ten and Cricket Australia, ESPNcricinfo understands Nine have been made aware of the scope of Ten's bid, which for international cricket alone is believed to comfortably outstrip CA's seven-year, $315 million deal with Nine that expired at the end of summer.

This news will be the cause for hurried additional meetings by Nine executives over the next month, as they weigh up the cost of retaining rights they have not been seriously challenged for since their former impresario Kerry Packer used the World Series Cricket breakaway to win exclusive access to all officially-sanctioned international cricket in Australia in 1979. Nine have always retained the rights to the last bid, but the strength of their resolve is now to be tested.

Nine may yet come through with the cash required to trump Ten, but the latter is already set to claim free-to-air rights to the Twenty20 BBL for next summer and beyond, having been attracted to the revamped competition through its eye-catching television ratings on Fox Sports over the past two seasons.

It was a result that required a significant financial outlay by CA and the states to generate. These costs were obscured somewhat by the annual windfall provided by the T20 Champions League, whose exorbitant TV rights, participation fees and prize money were negotiated by CA and the BCCI in the afterglow of the inaugural IPL in 2008.

Were Ten to win the rights to international cricket they could be expected to show most of the BBL on their digital multi-channel One, an option CA would likely find attractive over pay television because it would be available in a far greater number of households than Fox Sports.

Though CA's relationship with Nine has been a mutually beneficial union over many seasons and both parties remain comfortable with one another, there is a growing view that a change of television rights holder would reflect cricket's desire to remain vital in an increasingly fragmented and competitive sporting landscape.

There is little fear at CA that a move from Nine to Ten would result in a reduction of television audience figures for the game, despite the Australian public's instinctive association of cricket with the network of Packer, Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry and Ian Chappell.

While the BBL and international matches are in demand, little interest exists in the domestic limited overs competition or the Sheffield Shield, though there remains a chance the competitions could still find partial television coverage.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by farkin on (May 12, 2013, 4:28 GMT)

from the better income of this for Cricket Australia will it mean Australia does not go to India or India comes here as often as it does now ?

Posted by   on (May 11, 2013, 7:14 GMT)

Even though Ch Nine's standard of cricket commentary and broadcast has slipped in the past two years, and probably will continue to do so with the departure of Tony Greig, Ch Ten would be much worse...so keep it on Nine.

Posted by Meety on (May 11, 2013, 2:05 GMT)

@bommber on (May 10, 2013, 3:02 GMT) - yeah I agree - James Brayshaw annoys the cheddar out of me! == == == If Channel ten gets the rights, (assuming no King Richie), I vote for Mike Whitney being the host, I think he'd be brilliant! Has experience at hosting shows.

Posted by   on (May 10, 2013, 21:05 GMT)

Hi Michael Gray, Simon Barnes should be Simon Hughes. Barnes writes for the Times. Hughes is the guy you are referring to who played for Middlesex and Durham. Excellent writer also himself

Posted by bemUSed2 on (May 10, 2013, 14:14 GMT)

to all those people who seem to be looking at channel 9s coverage through rose coloured glasses... have you forgotten the EXCELLENT coverage of the 2005 ashes on SBS??? the WONDERFUL coverage of the 1995 tour of the West Indies on channel 10??? perhaps you have never seen the OUTSTANDING coverage of the BBL on fox??? believe me... channel 9 is a laughing stock of the sports coverage world and australia is full of vastly better commentators than these poor, outdated, out of touch, talentless hacks (M Slater has promise but is held back by the dead weight)... for those who listen to ABC radio... they are not much better these days, i often listen for up to 20 minutes before they stop telling self-indulgent stories and actually give a score update... thank God for cricinfo!!!

Posted by Nightwing32 on (May 10, 2013, 4:13 GMT)

I think it is just the nostalgia but I'm keen to see how Ten does this. They will show Domestic which I think is great for the game in Australia. Channel 10 I think know that if they screw up the cricket, they are as good as gone as a channel.

Posted by bommber on (May 10, 2013, 3:02 GMT)

what ever it takes to get rid of mark nichols and james brayshaw.they are both annoying in there own particular way that they turn me off watching sometimes.get me some people who have played international cricket there are plenty of them out there.

Posted by   on (May 10, 2013, 2:39 GMT)

If Ten do get the rights, they could talk to Channel 4 in the UK. They took over coverage of international cricket in the UK around 2000 for a few years. Excellent coverage; innovate segments like The Analyst, where Simon Barnes analysed play in near real-time, innovative camera angles and good, to-the-point commentary. And they knew when to refrain and let the cricket do the talking.

Posted by gallarate on (May 9, 2013, 18:05 GMT)

Will somebody still say things like "Edges......and taken!" and "What a ripper!"?

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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