Bumper summer for Seven, nothing for Nine, as talks break down
Nine Network, the Australian free-to-air commercial broadcaster, looks set for a sport-free summer schedule after ending negotiations with rival Seven Network about taking on the rights to tennis' Australian Open a year earlier than planned.
At the end of March, Nine snared exclusive rights to the Australian Open in a quickly-concluded, record A$300-million ($223.4 million) deal that runs from 2020 to 2024.
Seven's long-running association with the tournament is due to end with next year's tournament, but complications have arisen because in April, Seven and pay-TV's Fox Sports concluded a six-year, A$1.182-billion media rights agreement with Cricket Australia.
That deal begins with the 2018-19 season, meaning Seven has rights to both summer sports in 2019, and there is uncertainty about which channel will show the Australian Open, which prompted talks between the two broadcasters and Tennis Australia.
However, Nine said today it has ended all negotiations after Seven rejected "a fair offer."
Nine’s offer was around A$50 million, A$10 million more than Seven pays per year, and A$10 million less than Nine is paying annually in its deal from 2020.
It now remains to be seen how Seven will schedule the tennis and cricket, considering there is a high probability that the Australian Open will clash with Big Bash League Twenty20 cricket competition, for which Seven has the rights to simulcast 43 matches.
In addition, the Australian Open men's and women's finals are likely to clash with the day-night test match between Australia and Sri Lanka in late January.