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Cricket broadcast rights could go cheap

Will it retain cricket rights?

While negotiations for the sporting rights to cricket are ongoing, many media insiders are tipping that the rights will be retained by Nine.

Betting agency Sportsbet has even opened a market on the negotiations offering just $1.15 for long-term rights holder Channel Nine to retain the rights, $5 for Ten and $9 on Seven.

“The cricket is in Nine’s DNA so we expect they will simply match any offer another broadcaster might put forward,” said Ben Hawkes, a spokesman for Sportsbet.

“Seven has the tennis and focuses heavily on that and as a result is the outside option in betting.”

Nine and the other networks all declined to comment on the basis that negotiations are ongoing. However, the negotiations are occurring in what many analysts say is a weak market for sports rights, given the current financial positions of Nine and Ten.

In mid-January, Seven announced it would continue to broadcast the V8 Supercars with the network paying $18m for a two-year broadcast deal, down from $28m for three years under the previous deal.

Many in the industry say the lower price reflects the lack of competitive tension in the current market.

Another area to watch is whether pay TV sports channel Fox Sports retains the rights to the Big Bash or whether those rights are shared with Nine, possibly on one of its digital channels.

Media analyst Steve Allen says the Big Bash is extremely important to the channel’s subscription model.

“Advertising, and therefore audience, isn’t a big feature of the overall Fox Sport revenue mix,” says Allen, the director of Fusion Strategy.

“They might not gain any more by having to pay a lot more for the rights. But they sure as hell will lose if they don’t have them,” he said. “That is because the average revenue per customer is so high in this country [Fox Sports] can get back their investment quite quickly.”

Nic Christensen

This feature first appeared in the tablet edition of Encore. To download click on the links below.

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