Channel Seven appears to have reneged on plans to give arch-rival Nine the rights to the Australian Tennis Open in 2019, leaving Nine with no major sports to broadcast next summer.
Seven, of course, pinched the cricket rights away from Nine in a $1.2 billion joint deal with Foxtel in mid-April. The deal means Seven will broadcast cricket at the start of the 2018-19 season beginning in November.
In turn, Nine snared the tennis rights away from Seven in a $300 million deal, however, the deal doesn’t start until 2020.
There had been speculation Seven would relinquish the last year of its tennis rights deal, allowing Nine the rights, however, that rumour now appears quashed.
Speaking at Macquarie Bank’s annual business conference yesterday, Seven CEO, Tim Worner, said: “We’ll have both the tennis and the cricket, the only summer sports that really matter.
“This gives us an unprecedented opportunity to drive for ratings and revenue, and an unrivalled platform from which to launch our 2019 schedule.”
Nine’s CEO, High Marks, also speaking at the Macquarie function added: “Yes, cricket writes more gross revenue than tennis. But with tennis, we can license sub-rights to third parties.
“There is probably a half-share point of difference, and it will probably take us a couple of years to get to that position,” Marks said.
Worner adding: “Cricket gives us over 400 hours of premium sports over summer – that’s getting up towards three times that of the Australian Open tennis, and that is at a significantly less cost per hour.”
However, there still appears come confusion where and when fans will be able to watch actual games, particularly when the cricket clashes with the Australian Tennis Open in mid-January.
As an example, the first seven international matches of next year’s cricket series – T20s against South Africa and India – will only be shown on pay TV provider Foxtel. The first cricket match Seven will show will be the India-Australia Test starting 6th December.