Channel Nine will fight to keep the cricket rights. Picture: Phil Hillyard/News Corp Australia
Channel Nine will fight to keep the cricket rights. Picture: Phil Hillyard/News Corp Australia

Nine not about to pull stumps on cricket coverage

CHANNEL Nine has pledged to secure as much cricket as it can - at the right price.

Nine was this week advised to walk away from cricket by financial analysts UBS who claimed the station was losing up to $40 million a year on its $90-million-a-year international cricket rights.

But over the next few months Nine will bid for the next five-year international cricket rights deal plus the lucrative Big Bash Twenty20 rights currently held by Channel 10.

"We want as much cricket as possible for the best possible price,'' said Nine's director of sport Tom Malone.

"It's the only sport that unites a whole country for three to four months of the year. There's an advantage to having it all, and we'll be bold about that, but we have to make the balance sheet work too.

"We're really keen to have a deep and long relationship with cricket, so we can grow the sport and see a bigger commercial return.''

Malone said Nine would explore every option in attempting to keep the rights.

"We'll hang in until the death - until we've explored every last option," he said.

The new rights deals could see Big Bash and international rights change shape with the Big Bash rights expected to double from the $20 million-a-year mark after going cheaply last time.

International rights doubled to $90 million last time but could easily fall back to the $50 million range due to that product's declining appeal.

Despite speculation Nine would walk away from cricket, they may yet be the last man standing and could get everything.

Ten's six-monthly financial report released yesterday cast further doubt on whether the company would be able to have a serious tilt at retaining the Big Bash rights.

Ten reported a $232 million loss on the back of a $214 million writedown on the value of its television licence.

Despite company officials claiming the station was keen to retain the Big Bash rights, it is not certain Ten will survive the fallout of a $200 loan which is due to be repaid by December 23.

Fox Sports may yet be a decisive player in the market.

Both Ten and Nine would be likely to share a rights deals with Fox if it meant getting the lion's share.

News Corp Australia

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