The cricket is set to have a new home on TV, with Seven and Foxtel signing a rights deal with Cricket Australia (CA) estimated to be worth an estimated $1.2 billion.
The six-year deal will see Seven own the rights to all of the international Test matches and some of the T20 Big Bash League matches, with Foxtel gaining the rights to broadcast everything on offer from October 2018.
Fox Sports has also secured digital rights to all cricket in partnership with Cricket’s Australia’s digital arm, Cricket Network.
In a statement to shareholders this morning, Seven West Media confirmed it has been advised by CA that its bid with Foxtel was successful.
“Contracts are being finalised but not yet signed. A full announcement would be made on signing this afternoon,” it said.
Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany described the deal as a “broadcast revolution” that will give Australian cricket fans the most compelling, innovative and entertaining coverage of cricket with a new dedicated cricket channel, FOX Cricket.
“In the same way we revolutionised coverage of the AFL and NRL, we will do the same for cricket. It will be like nothing fans have experienced before,” he said.
“We have the most passionate, creative and innovative teams who are raring to go. Standby for a revolution of energy, quality and commentary.”
CA chief executive James Sutherland said the strong interest in broadcasting cricket represents a transformative opportunity for the game in Australia.
“We’re very excited about what the future holds with both Fox Sports and the Seven Network,” he said.
“This revolutionary deal will enable increased investment in grassroots cricket through our programs and further developing facilities.”
The deal also means both networks will broadcast the Allan Border and Belinda Clark Medal nights live.
Nine and Ten were also in the running for the rights, having only just tabled a $900 million joint bid. CA rejected the initial joint bid by Nine and Ten, with the sporting body’s chairman, David Peever, telling CBS executive Armando Nuñez that Ten had “completely messed this up”.
However, it’s understood that Nine dropped out of contention yesterday, which is not surprising given it recently poached the tennis rights from Seven for $300 million.
A Nine spokesperson issued the following statement: “Nine is immensely proud of our decades long association between Wide World of Sports and the game of cricket in this country. We wish Cricket Australia and its new broadcast partners well for the future success of the game.
“Cricket will continue to be a part of Nine’s schedule into the future with current deals in place covering the next Ashes series from England in 2019, the ODI World Cup in the UK in the same year and in 2020 the T20 World Cups to be held in Australia.
“But most of all, Nine is excited by our new partnership with Tennis Australia; a partnership that enables us to further evolve our business model into a new future; a partnership built on common values and vision to mutually build the game and Nine’s business as we connect with more audiences the way they choose.
“Our focus remains on the cross-platform opportunities in front of us and finding the best ways to continue to create value for our shareholders in to the future.”
Ten CEO Paul Anderson said in a statement that the network was disappointed that its bid for the rights was rejected.
“Network Ten turned the Big Bash League into the television phenomenon it is today and one of the most popular sports in Australia – a sport that all Australians were able enjoy for free,” he said.
“We had planned to extend that innovation to other forms of the game.
“Network Ten and our BBL team led by David Barham revolutionised the way cricket is broadcast in Australia and attracted new, younger viewers to the game.
“At the same time, we invested heavily in the Women’s Big Bash League, broadcasting matches in prime time for the first time and raising its profile significantly.
“We are proud of everything we achieved with the BBL and WBBL.”