Nine 'rejects Seven offer to swap Ashes for Wimbledon'
Nine Network, the Australian free-to-air commercial broadcaster, is reported to have rejected an offer from rival Seven Network to swap rights to this year’s Ashes test cricket series between England and Australia for Wimbledon, the UK’s grand slam tennis tournament.
Seven, which has replaced Nine as the free-to-air home of cricket in Australia, proposed taking on the 2019 Ashes being played in England in return for the 2019 and 2020 Wimbledon championships, according to Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
However, Nine is said to have baulked at the offer, and will remain the exclusive Australian broadcaster of the five Ashes tests, starting at Edgbaston in Birmingham on 1 August.
In addition, Nine is sharing Australian coverage of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, which takes place in England and Wales from 30 May to 14 July, with pay-television operator Fox Sports.
However, Nine will not have its own commentary team for the two cricket events, instead relying on the international feed from Star India for the World Cup and UK pay-TV broadcaster Sky’s coverage for the Ashes.
Landing the Ashes would have made sense for Seven, given that it and Fox Sports now hold rights to Australia’s home international matches and domestic competitions in a six-year agreement worth A$1.18 billion ($840 million).
The deal concluded last year, ahead of the 2018-19 season, brought to an end the long-running coverage of Australia matches on Nine.
The latter’s priority switched from cricket to tennis as it secured the rights to the Australian Open for five years starting in 2020 in a deal worth A$300 million, and subsequently took on the rights to the grand slam 12 months early after negotiating an agreement worth A$48.5 million for this year’s event with previous rights-holder Seven.