Network 10 has unveiled its 2021 plans at its annual Upfronts event, and with that, quashed rumours of a sports rights switch with competitor Seven.
Earlier last month, industry murmurings suggested Network 10 may offload its Melbourne Cup carnival rights – which it snared from Seven in 2018 – back to Seven, and in turn receive rights back to the Big Bash League (which Seven took from 10 in 2018). Essentially, a re-swap.
Cash-strapped Seven has been embroiled in a big spat with Cricket Australia over the value of the BBL deal amid COVID-19. The issue escalated last week, with the AFR reporting Seven may take CA to the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA) over the matter.
However, speaking to B&T ahead of 10’s virtual 2021 upfronts, 10 chief of sales Rod Prosser and head of programming Dan Monaghan denied the possibility of a sports rights swap.
When asked if 10 had any intention of a swap, Monaghan simply said the Melbourne Cup – which is two weeks away – is the broadcaster’s main focus, while Prosser added: “The swap [rumour] is completely and utterly untrue.”
Prosser said sports rights need to “make commercial sense and be right for the network”, and it’s certainly true the BBL certainly made sense for 10 back when it held the rights.
When asked if getting the BBL rights back was on the cards, Prosser said “never say never”, but added there are “many factors” which go into whether 10 picks up a sport or not.
10’s big 2021 focus
So, if getting the cricket back isn’t on the cards for 10 just yet, what is its main focus and what commercial opportunities are there in 2021?
“No question, the biggest opportunity is the BVOD platform because that continues to grow and even during COVID,” said Prosser.
“A lot of time and investment will continue to go on to that platform. Last year we announced a brand new premium product, which is powered by UI, which is our premium pause product and did very well for us.
“Then there’s the evolution of that, which will be another product that allows advertisers to really integrate deeply into the BVOD and connected TV environment. There’s a lot of investment and time and effort being spent on innovation, particularly around the premium area on the BVOD platform.
Prosser said his main advertising focus for next year will centre on bringing the 10 playground together.
“I think that’s really important,” he said, “particularly as all of 10’s channels really focus on the core key demographics of under 50.
“We’ll be looking into how do we bring all that together for an advertiser and be able to have all those touchpoints within their campaigns.
“We’ll also be focusing on having the right research and insights, which is where the ViacomCBS business coming down her locally comes into play. They have a wealth of experience in the younger demos, so we’re bringing that skillset down here to really help our advertisers understand that demo.”
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