Nine picks up rights to Kerry Packer cricket drama

Nine has swooped for the rights to Southern Star’s dramatisation of the Kerry Packer story after the first two outings – focusing on the launch of Cleo magazine – were a success for ABC1 on Sunday and Monday night.  

Nine has commissioned a two part mini series looking at Packer – who until his death owned the Nine Network – and his controversial introduction of World Series Cricket.

The series will be produced by John Edwards whose TV track record includes The Secret Life of Us, Love My Way and Offspring.

Production will not start until next year, the Nine announcement said.

According to Nine: “The mini-series tells how a young Kerry Packer took on the cricket establishment to set up a rebel competition with the world’s best players, who abandoned their loyalty to their national teams to join the breakaway competition. It will recount Packer’s court battles to get World Series Cricket up and running, the secret player signings, and the way he got around the ban on using Australia’s hallowed Test arenas.

“Despite poor crowds and low television ratings at first, a brave new world of sports broadcasting had begun, ushering in the era of one-day cricket played under lights.”

The ABC’s Paper Giants – which focused on the working relationship of Packer and Ita Buttrose – delivered ratings of 1.2m and 1.3m and was also a criticla success.

The Australian reports that the ABC was unable to win for the next instalment after Nine declined to make archive cricket footage available. The Oz quotes an ABC source as saying: “We’re gobsmacked – can’t Nien get its own ideas?”

Of late, Nine’s track record in picking up rights previously held by the public service broadcasters has been unsuccessful.

Top Gear had been SBS’s most watched show, but in the two years it has been on Nine, audiences have declined dramatically, hitting a new low of 485,000 earlier this month.


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