Cricket war takes its toll on summer ad sales as Nine and Ten chase cautious market

The protracted pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association is beginning to have an impact on Nine and Ten’s ability to sell the crucial Ashes series and Big Bash League.

The Australian Cricketers Association has warned the Ashes could still be affected even if a deal is reached

After the cancellation of one tour and the likelihood another will be torpedoed, a ‘hard stop date’ is looming for broadcasters as advertiser deadlines approach for the two major summer programs.

Nine launched its Ashes offer to advertisers three weeks ago with lunches for media buyers where the flesh was pressed as the Network showed off what the 2017/18 Ashes series would look like.

While Nine’s sales teams are out in market selling the summer of cricket – what for many advertisers is their major broadcasting advertising investment for the holiday period – Mumbrella understands media buyers are taking a cautious approach to the overtures in light of the standoff between Cricket Australia and the players.

Industry insiders say Nine faces a “hard stop date” in September or October when it will begin to affect the ability of the network to close deals with media agencies and their clients with both Cricket Australia and the ACA on notice that failure to strike a deal soon could be damaging to the sports’ primary broadcast partner.

Officially Nine remains upbeat about the the prospects for the warring parties to finally broker peace with a spokesperson saying plans were on track.

“We remain confident that Cricket Australia and the players will resolve the matter soon,” a spokesperson said.

“We are having conversations with our commercial partners on that basis.”

Sources close to the industry believe that those advertisers willing to commit early are doing so at a discount as Nine looks to lock in revenue as early as possible while Ten has been actively out in market drumming up interest in its last season of the phenomenally successful Big Bash League before the broadcast rights are again put on the auction block.

Ten is in market selling Big Bash packages

Several weeks ago Dave Barham, Ten’s head of sports, described the possibility of the summer of cricket being cancelled as “inconceivable”. A spokesperson for Ten told Mumbrella talks on sponsorship for the BBL were tracking well.

“We are in market with BBL. The upcoming season of the BBL has been very well received by advertisers and there is strong sponsor interest,” the spokesperson said.

As early as this morning Cricket Australia said discussions would continue through the week.

“Cricket Australia will not comment on details of the negotiation but productive discussions were held today and progress is being made on a range of issues,” a spokesperson said.

“We have been in constant communication with the ACA and we are expecting further meetings on the negotiation to continue over the coming days.”

The spokesperson said CA remained in contact with all of the sports’ stakeholders, including broadcasters, but would not discuss communications publicly.


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