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Foxtel and Seven lay out their strategies behind the cricket rights deal

Cricket is a far better sport for Seven than tennis said Seven’s CEO Tim Worner this afternoon, while Foxtel boss Patrick Delany sees the the rights deal with Foxtel and Cricket Australia announced earlier on Friday as being a key part of the subscription TV service’s growth strategy ahead of an IPO.

The deal, which Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said will deliver $1.182bn to the sport over the next six years,  will see all domestic test matches and Big Bash Leagues games simulcast on Seven and a dedicated Fox cricket channel.

Tim Worner, James Sutherland and Patrick Delany at the Cricket Australia rights announcement

“This deal is the foundation of our company for the next five years. It’s going to guarantee audiences for the next five years,” Worner said.

“I can’t tell you what Married At First Sight or My Kitchen Rules is going to be rating in a few years, I do know roughly what Collingwood versus Adelaide will rate tonight and I can tell you it will be rating that well, if not better in five years.

“It’s the foundation of the transformation at Seven. It gives us over 400 hours of premium sport. If you think about that, and thinking about the Australian Open which has significantly less hours, say 14 nights, we’re getting about 70 days and nights for what we’ve paid. We think it’s a great deal for us.”

Worner went on to say: “Financially this is a much better deal for Seven West Media than what we had with tennis. You just need to look at the number of hours we’re getting under this deal and that so many of these hours are daytime hours that you get to charge prime time rates for. That is a huge factor in this.”

The Seven CEO however would not be drawn on whether tennis or cricket will get priority during the 2018-19 season when the network has rights to both sports.

Foxtel CEO Delany flagged the deal is an important part of Foxtel’s strategy to increase subscribers and streaming revenue ahead of a mooted IPO later this year.

“If you think about our sports offering, it’s very strong from March through to October and then in October we say ‘See you next March’ when you can jump back on the train.

“Cricket has a very strong cohort into our AFL and NRL products as well as motorsport. Now this means our subscribers have a very strong sports service for the whole year round.

“It’s just one brick in our rebuilding over the next 12 months that will lead back to growth…

“We will be growing both our Foxtel businesses and new streaming business. It’s a very important part of that transition.”

Under the deal 43 Big Bash League matches will also be simulcast on both Seven and Fox Cricket along with 23 Women’s Big Bash League games and all women’s international fixtures.

Foxtel will have exclusive rights to the One Day Internationals with both Sutherland and Foxtel CEO Delany were insistent the deal meets the requirements of the federal government’s anti-siphoning legislation which mandates ODIs are available to free-to-air viewers.

Digital rights will be held by Foxtel and will form the basis of a partnership with CA’s digital arm, the Cricket Network, which will see broadcast-quality streaming of matches not broadcast by the two networks available through cricket.com.au and the CA Live Pass.

Fans will also have access to the highlights packages through cricket.com.au and the Cricket Australia Live platform.

Speaking to Mumbrella after the press conference, Sutherland said the radio rights would be “the next cab off the rank” for Cricket Australia now the TV and digital deal has been settled.

In a prepared statement, Sutherland said: “Our thanks go to Channel Nine, who for more than 40 years has broadcast international cricket at a world-renowned standard – and in so doing has done more to promote our sport than any organisation in Australian cricket history.

“Our sincere thanks also to Network Ten for their role in taking the Big Bash League to a new level, and for so willingly providing a platform to launch and grow the Women’s Big Bash League.  As a startup league, the BBL is a phenomenal success story.  Over the last five years, Ten has made an extraordinary contribution to the league and its growth in bringing new fans to cricket.

“We have nothing but gratitude and respect for Nine and Ten – and sincerely thank them for their contribution to our sport.

“We’re very excited about what the future holds with both Fox Sports and the Seven West Media.”

Delany added: “Fox Sports Australia will show every ball of every over bowled in Australia delivered with our trademark energy and creativity, on a dedicated new home, Fox Cricket.

“We know Australians love and respect cricket and so do we. We will give fans the most compelling, entertaining and innovative coverage of cricket with more choices, more games, more programs.

“It will be cricket like they have never experienced before.

“Get ready. Cricket fans will finally be able to enjoy cricket in the way they want and choose,” concluded Delany.

Worner added: “This is a great deal – for Seven, for our viewers, our advertisers, our shareholders and for the game itself.

“Cricket fans will be able to see the best produced Cricket, live and free on Australia’s number one FTA Network. Seven has always been the innovator in FTA sports coverage in Australia – from RaceCam in the 70s, to setting the standard in how AFL is covered, televising more Olympic Games than any other TV station, and introducing cutting-edge technologies and multi-channel coverage before anyone else.

“And for Cricket Australia, it means the unbridled support of Australia’s number one Network and the best sports partners bar none. We will be unrelenting in our efforts to lift cricket to new levels,” concluded Worner.

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