Seven has announced it has lost the long-standing rights to the V8 Supercars to free-to-air rivals Network Ten, Fox Sports sand Foxtel in a five-year $241m deal.
Live sport has been touted as a key pillar in rebuilding Ten by CEO Hamish McLennan, and it will see former Ten boss James Warburton, the CEO of V8 Supercars, reuinited again with his former employer.
The new agreement, the biggest ever for the sport, will see $196m in cash and $45m in advertising supplied by the broadcasters, who will hold all TV and digital rights.
It is understood Ten will broadcast races alongside Fox Sports, which will also show “every minute of practice, qualifying, support categories and the championship races” according to boss Patrick Delaney, while digital rights will be held by Foxtel Go.
In a statement Warburton said: “This is a tremendous and significant deal for our sport. It is a great boost to our amazing race teams and fans and will lead to unprecedented coverage on multiple platforms for our sport, never before seen on such a scale.”
Seven has held the rights for the past seven years and said it had made an offer which represented “a substantial increase on the current rights agreement and one which made financial sense for Seven and V8s and would have ensured its presence on Australia’s leading television network for years to come”.
The network secured the rights for two more years in January for around $18m per season, in what The Australian claimed was a “major haircut” to the previous deal.
It is the third major sporting franchise to be secured by Ten since McLennan’s appointment, with the Winter Olympics and the T20 Big Bash cricket league already secured as the third placed network looks to bounce back.
Welcoming the franchise “home” to Ten McLennan said in a statement: “V8 Supercars is an iconic Australian sport, reaching into every part of the country, and James Warburton and his team have big plans to make it even stronger and better.”
“Ten is now truly the home of motorsport. Formula One, MotoGP and V8 Supercars will make a powerful, exciting combination for all our viewers and advertisers. Today’s announcement is in line with our strategy of investing in premium live sport and adding more event TV to Ten.”
In its statement Seven added: “We wish the sport, the teams and the drivers the best. We will give the V8s everything we’ve got in 2014. We have a very strong sports line up across a wide range of live sports that the Australian public love to watch on Seven and this situation will inevitably lead to other opportunities and we will be very ready for them.”