The Nine network is looking to justify forking out more than $450 million in a new TV deal with Cricket Australia by seeking more control over the scheduling of matches and in-game advertising.
Speaking to The Australian, Nine Entertainment Co CEO Hugh Marks said he would think twice about paying record amounts for sports rights – which he believes are becoming unsustainable in terms of value – unless sporting bodies gave more control to the media networks who hold them.
“We as a business are focused on content where we can control the rights, exploit the windows, integrate advertising into the whole proposition and influence the scheduling,” he said.
“But the problem with a lot of sport is that the more we go into that world, sport doesn’t often meet all those criteria. There has to be some rationality in the market for rights to reflect the fact that, yes, it is great content, but at the same time, we can’t keep bidding up to a point where we become an unprofitable business.”
Despite voicing Nine’s intentions to nab the Big Bash League from rival Ten to add to its roster of cricket rights (which encompasses international Tests and one-dayers) when the rights come up for renegotiation next year, Marks said the network has to be financially responsible for its shareholders in the way it approaches this.
“We have to ensure that we are doing that on a basis on which we can make a return,” he told The Australian.
“Cricket Australia also wants to be dealing with profitable businesses. They want great competition in the market, but if rights keep bidding up, their options will become more limited.”
Marks added that a partnership with Fox Sports to claim the cricket rights was “possible”.
“I wouldn’t rule anything in or out. Who could a partner be? It could be anybody. We are open to all options and not closed to any,” he told The Australian.