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NAB and Hungry Jack’s move into the cricket arena sponsoring Nine’s Ashes coverage

National Australia Bank (NAB) has moved into Commonwealth Bank’s territory by sponsoring Network Nine’s upcoming broadcast of the Ashes series, with Hungry Jack’s filling a gap left by rival KFC.

Other new brands on the roster include car brand Mercedes-Benz, telco Commander and insurance company Youi, while three of the sponsors, Bet365, Harvey Norman and Swisse are returning to the fold.

Sam Brennan, Nine’s network sports sales director, told Mumbrella the sponsor lineup was “stronger” than the 2013 Ashes in the UK saying he was encouraged to have picked up brands which are “not traditional cricket advertisers”.

The series is set to be broadcast on Nine’s digital channel Gem and starts at 8pm on Wednesday, in competition with the hotly anticipated decider of the State of Origin rugby league series which is expected to draw one of the biggest TV audiences of the year.

But Brennan described the clash in the schedule as an opportunity to cross-promote the Ashes coverage, adding: “We’ll be throwing to London a lot during the Origin broadcast, and I think when the broadcast is done and dusted at about 10.30pm we expect to see a huge audience shift over to Gem.”

All the matches will start at 8pm and run through the night, finishing at around 3am each day.

Asked about the decision to screen the series on Gem rather than the primary channel Brennan pointed to the prime time lineup on Nine in the coming weeks, and said the audience share it picked up on Gem in 2013made it a “no brainer”.

sam brennan nine

Sam Brennan

“Cricket is also one of the best sports to show in HD (high definition) so being able to do that on Gem is also a good thing,” he added.

Whilst CommBank has backed recent summer broadcasts and is a principal sponsor of Cricket Australia, rival big four bank NAB has swooped in to pick up rights on the telecast for the series winter in the UK which starts on Wednesday.

Brennan said it was the first time NAB has backed cricket, saying: “In 2013 we didn’t have a finance sponsor, but for NAB it worked out with timing for a campaign and the opportunity to plug into this area of sport was a pretty easy one for them and made sense.”

He added the number of brands looking to sponsor the series showed marketers are looking to move more brand dollars into the sports marketing arena and capitalise on the large audiences it delivers for live viewing, as TV audiences continue to fragment.

While the last Ashes contest saw Australia whitewash England 5-0, commentators are expecting a more even contest in English conditions. Brennan admitted a closer contest would be better for ratings, adding: “As a nation of competitors we want to see a good competitive series.

“To be decided late in the fifth test match is always our preference. I think it will be a lot closer than some people think.”

Alex Hayes

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