Channel Seven abandons Olympics for first time since 1956 in bid to retain Australian cricket rights
Channel 7 has walked away from the Olympics after nearly 70 years of covering the event to an Australian audience in a bid to take on a serious challenge to retain Australian cricket broadcasting rights.
The lucrative rights to Test cricket, limited overs internationals and the Big Bash League looked set to return to Channel Nine, with the broadcaster launching a massive $1.5 billion deal with Foxtel.
That would mean cricket returning home to Channel Nine, which broadcast the sport for 40 years before Channel Seven appeared in 2019.
The Tokyo Olympics reportedly cost Seven West Media $50 million, while Channel Nine is now in the box to claim the rights
Cricket Australia is poised for a big payday with Channel Nine, Seven West Media and Paramount competing for the broadcasting rights
But Seven West Media, owners of Channel 7, have now officially walked away from the Olympics and the games will go to Channel Nine.
The Herald Sun has reported that Nine has offered more than $300 million for the broadcasting rights to the Olympics, $100 million more than Seven West Media.
However, the money saved by giving up the Olympics means Channel Seven can bolster their offer to retain the cricket rights alongside pay and subscription providers Foxtel and Kayo – both owned by News Corp.
Nine already owns the rights to the Australian Open and is also paying about $100 million for the free-to-air NRL rights, plus the network is likely to win the Olympics as well.
The Sun reported that Channel Seven lost about $50 million at the Tokyo Games, meaning Channel Nine will have to spend a lot of money trying to win back cricket after splashing money on other sports.
However, current broadcasters Channel 7 and Fox Sports are both reportedly unhappy with the Big Bash in its current state, which could work against those networks securing the rights.
The Big Bash League could be a key part of negotiations with Channel 7 unhappy with the current format and Channel Nine ahead of the Australian Open in January
US streaming service Paramount, which owns Channel 10, has raised the bar for all networks after a whopping $1.5 billion bid for the exclusive rights to all cricket.
However, Cricket Australia has been known to be hesitant to move all games to streaming-only services.
A decision was expected by Christmas but is likely to be delayed by Seven West Media’s revised bid to retain the cricket rights.
A decision is likely to come shortly, with Cricket Australia chairman Lachlan Henderson signaling that negotiations are nearing completion
Cricket Australia chairman Lachlan Henderson said a decision would be made shortly.
“Negotiations are in commercial confidence … it’s reaching the pointy end at this point,” Henderson said Friday.
“There is a lot of interest in the cricket media rights and we are very pleased to have interest from all major parties.”