HT&E plus oOh! sell, Seven and Foxtel catch cricket, Nine rumoured to have Olympics: What you missed over the break

With the first business day of 2023 upon the Australian media and marketing industry, here are the events that happened over the break that you need to catch up with.

HT&E CEO, Ciaran Davis

HT&E palms off Soprano stake for $66 million

HT&E Limited, the parent company of ARN, has sold its 25% stake in Soprano Design to Potentia Capital today, after failing to offload the interest first to Link Mobility (LINK) in 2021.

Soprano Design is a mobile communications technology platform. The agreement will see HT&E receive $66.3 million in cash, provided that the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) clears the deal, according to an ASX announcement.

HT&E said the deal provides “financial flexibility” for it to further invest in “core media assets”. This includes radio, audio and digital businesses in Australia as well as outdoor assets in Hong Kong.

HT&E initially agreed to sell the stake to Norwegian company LINK for $149 million in cash and equity. However, the deal fell through in light of new terms and conditions alongside LINK share price volatility and increased debt.

In the last few years, HT&E has sold its stake in other assets including The Roar and oOh!Media. Despite this, the company expanded its audio footprint as it completed the acquisition of Grant Broadcaster, minus 4KQ as it reached the ACMA threshold of broadcast licenses in the broader Brisbane region.

As of today, HT&E trades at $1, up $0.03 from $0.97 on 30 December. It has a market capitalisation of $302.88 million.

L-R: Patrick Delany, Foxtel Group CEO, Pat Cummins, KAYO brand ambassador and Adam Gilchrist, Fox Cricket Commentator

Seven and Foxtel extend cricket rights to 2031

Following reports from the Australian Financial Review yesterday, Cricket Australia has confirmed Seven and Foxtel will hold onto the broadcast rights for Australian Cricket for another seven years, extending the deal to 2031.

Worth $1.51 billion, the agreement will see Foxtel Group, including Fox Sports and SVOD services Kayo, as well as Seven and 7plus, broadcast Australian International Men’s and Women’s matches as well as the WBBL and BBL from the 2024-25 season, to 2030-31.

Seven will pay $65 million each year for its package, down from the $75 million it has paid yearly since 2018. The package will include test matches plus live and delayed digital streaming rights access to a shortened Big Bash League (BBL) season of five to six weeks.

The announcement also revealed that Seven has dropped its legal proceedings launched against Cricket Australia earlier this year –  an attempt to terminate its contract for Test Match and Big Bash League broadcasts locally, due to multiple quality and standards breaches by CA.

While speculation suggested Paramount ANZ had put in an offer of more than $1.5 billion over seven years for exclusive broadcast and streaming rights, it denied this in a statement sent to Mumbrella. Paramount said it had not been in active negotiations since early December and never made a formal bid.

The new deal will see every game will be aired live on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports, with 10 exclusive BBL matches. All of Seven’s games will also be streamed on 7plus. The deal will also include two home five-test men’s series against India and two home five-test men’s Ashes series, as well as an extended women’s international program.

Cricket Australia CEO, Nick Hockley, said the body was “delighted” to continue its partnership with the Foxtel Group and Seven.

“The quality and reach of the Foxtel Group and Seven’s cricket production is first class and the outstanding service they provide cricket fans was a strong consideration in our decision to continue with this successful partnership.”

Foxtel Group chief executive officer, Patrick Delany, said, “This extension is great news for our more than 4.6 million subscribers, who will see our world-class talent and production teams at Fox Sports continue bringing the magic like they always have across Foxtel and Kayo Sports.”

Seven West Media managing director and chief executive officer, James Warburton, said:

“We are delighted to extend our partnership with Cricket Australia until 2030-31. A comprehensive package of digital rights to the cricket for 7plus will ensure that for the first time, our viewers will be able to access cricket, live and free, in a way that suits them.

“Our combined broadcast and digital rights for both cricket and the AFL means Seven and 7plus will be the home of sport all year round.”

The latest update in sports broadcast rights comes as SBS has called on the government to extend its ‘anti-siphoning scheme’, which aims to keep significant sporting events on free-to-air TV.

Nine looks set to become the new home of the Olympics

On the precipice of the Christmas break, Sydney Morning Herald reported sources had told it that Nine Entertainment Co had won the battle for the rights to air the next three Olympic Games events after submitting a higher bid than incumbent broadcaster Seven West Media.

The network first made its move for the next round of Olympics broadcast rights known earlier this year, sending Karl Stefanovic to Switzerland alongside top Nine executives, ahead of the official commencement of tenders. The events up for grabs included the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Olympics, and the Brisbane 2032 Summer Olympics.

Sydney Morning Herald put Nine’s bid at more than $300 million for the next three Summer and Winter games, according to sources “familiar with the situation”. The confidential negotiations are set to be finalised in the coming weeks, with both networks having submitted bids ahead of the deadline on the evening of 21 December.

Seven West Media was awarded the last bout of Olympics broadcast rights in 2014, going on to air the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. The deal at the time was believed to be in the region of $200 million.

Cathy O’Connor, CEO of oOh!Media

oOh!media sells café and venue place-based networks to Motio

Motio Limited has acquired oOh!media’s café and venue networks for $2.35 million.

The networks consist of over 450 locations, reaching audiences across cafés in CBDs and key urban locations, as well as digital displays in landmark licensed venues Australia-wide. 

CEO of Motio, Adam Cadwallader, said: “Motio is set up and ready to take on additional networks. These two channels are especially significant with a number of us at Motio having worked previously on the build and development of both café and venue – we are very excited to have them join the Motio portfolio.

“Our continued growth in the digital place based and audience experience sector will be further enhanced with these networks.”

Motio will work with oOh!media to complete the integration of the networks over January and February, with completion expected on March 1.

Once completed, Motio will own and operate over 1,500 digital displays across more than 1,000 locations nationally, reaching 1.5 million Australians every week.

David Ponce de León

David Ponce de León departs Ogilvy and takes sabbatical

Ogilvy Melbourne’s long-standing executive creative director David Ponce de León has left the business, taking a 12-month sabbatical from the industry. 

Ponce de León first joined Ogilvy in 2015 and was tasked with furthering the agency’s creative capabilities in Melbourne and driving greater collaboration with the Sydney team.

Ponce de León said: “[it has been] a dream come true, to lead Ogilvy Melbourne’s creative team and work on such incredible brands.

“I’ve long admired Ogilvy’s work as a global network, so I jumped at the chance to become part of it seven years ago. They’ve been, without a doubt, the best years of my life and career.

“As I approach my 25th year in the industry and well as my 50th birthday, the time is right to take stock and leave this team to evolve and grow into its next era over the coming year.”

Over the past 20 years, Ponce de León has been awarded multiple times for works with brands including adidas, Mars, Schweppes, Suzuki, and the Victorian Government. 

Gavin MacMillan, Ogilvy Melbourne manager director, said: “David has made an enormous contribution to the agency. He has been instrumental in transforming our creative approach and helped us achieve the highest accolades for numerous campaigns over the years, from AAMI SmartPlates all the way through the AAMI RestTowns, and many many more.

“He’s also been one of our cultural beacons and a strong believer in developing young talent. So, while he will be missed, we understand and support his desire to take an extended break from the industry.”

Guardian Australia caught off guard by cyber attack

After its UK parent company was struck by what seemed to be a ransomware attack, prior to Christmas The Guardian asked its Australian staff to work from home due to ongoing cybersecurity concerns.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the skeleton group of staff who worked over the holiday period were asked to stay home until January 9 for precaution. Offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra were closed.

The Guardian’s technology infrastructure, which was used by the Australian news team, was said to be crippled by the hack. However, no customer data was reportedly accessed.

Online publishing is largely unaffected, The Guardian said, as the team continued to work on stories.

The Guardian Media Group chief executive, Anna Bateson, and the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, told staff on 22 December: “As everyone knows, there has been a serious incident which has affected our IT network and systems in the last 24 hours. We believe this to be a ransomware attack but are continuing to consider all possibilities.

“Our technology teams have been working to deal with all aspects of this incident, with the vast majority of our staff able to work from home as we did during the pandemic.

“We will continue to keep our staff and anyone else affected informed.”

Mumbrella reached out to Guardian Australia for further comments.


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