“Despite the public health and logistical complexities presented by the pandemic, CA continues to deliver a safe and successful summer that has enthralled fans across the country and broken records along the way,” the spokesperson said. “This is possible due to the support of our wonderful partners and we look forward to continuing our work together.”
The relationship between Seven and Cricket Australia erupted in August when the TV network’s chief executive James Warburton publicly slammed the cricket body for the lack of detail in its summer plans. Seven has since taken Cricket Australia to arbitration and is seeking a significant cut (about 20 per cent) to the $70 million annual fee it pays as part of its claim, and has not ruled out terminating its contract with three seasons remaining.
Seven’s biggest issue is that cricket administrators prioritised the wishes of the governing body the BCCI and pay TV broadcaster partner Foxtel. Seven executives are frustrated that the international calendar for 2020-21 was flipped on its head, with limited-overs matches between Australia and India that are exclusive to Foxtel starting the season. The Australian Financial Review reported in November that Foxtel, which has the exclusive digital rights and all Big Bash League matches, one day Tests and T20 matches, signed a revised deal with the cricket.
Nine, owner of this masthead, and Ten were the previous rights holders of the cricket but lost them in a $1.18 billion six-year deal struck in 2018 with Foxtel and Seven. The informal talks with Nine stopped after Seven paid a $12.5 million to Cricket Australia last Tuesday, but were ongoing up until that point. Seven offered to offload the Big Bash League to Ten early in the year. Once Seven expressed frustration with Cricket Australia, Nine and Ten informally discussed a return to broadcast the sport. The issue for Ten is that it would only want to air Big Bash League matches exclusively, and Foxtel currently has all the rights.
Nine and Ten declined to comment.
If the cricket rights did move to Nine, it is unlikely it would pay the same amount Seven pays for the rights, because it and Ten paid $550 million over four years to broadcast matches between 2014-2018. It would also clash with Nine’s tennis schedule and would be an additional cost to the recently acquired rugby union rights, netball and the NRL.
Cricket sources previously said the sports administrator had accused Seven, in its affidavit, of wanting to reset its six-year broadcast rights deal without significant reason. Seven has paid its instalments up until this point but if it defaults and Cricket Australia decides to terminate and strike an alternative deal, it may try to sue its broadcast partner for the price difference.
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