Nine has announced it has secured the rights to the Australian Open from 2020-2024.
The $300 million, five-year deal covers exclusive rights to all premium tennis played in Australia across broadcast, streaming, mobile, digital and social platform, including the Hopman Cup in Perth and the Brisbane, Sydney and Hobart Internationals.
The deal breaks Seven’s 40 year grip on the prized event, strategically placed ahead of the television ratings year. Seven’s exclusive negotiation period ended in mid-March. Nine’s deal with Tennis Australia was forged in a matter of weeks through Hugh Marks Nine CEO, Tom Malone Director of Sport, Alexi Baker Director of Strategy and Corporate Development, Rachel Launders General Counsel, and Sam Brennan Director of Sales, Melbourne.
“It’s no secret that Tennis as a sport has a beautiful balance of female and male participation and viewership. It’s (part) of the attractiveness of Tennis for us,” Marks said today.
“That promotional platform at the top of the year leading into the new schedule is one of the attractions of the sport but it is much broader than that. It’s the demographics of the sport itself. Over time Nine has a business has probably been very male and over the last decade it’s changed to be much broader in terms of male, and probably more female now in a lot of our programming. a sport that fits that demographic certainly is great for us.
Hugh Marks, CEO of Nine, said: “We are thrilled to have secured the rights to premium Australian tennis, particularly the Australian Open. The timing of tennis and the audience demographics it delivers are a perfect fit for Nine and its advertisers.
“We share Tennis Australia’s passion to grow its events, particularly the Australian Open, and expand its broadcast proposition in this country. To say we are excited to be part of that future is an understatement.”
“This is a landmark deal for Tennis Australia and we are very excited to partner with the Nine Network for the next five years,” Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said.
“Four years ago we brought the host broadcast for the Australian Open and all our events in-house and this success has allowed us to unlock even more value in our domestic media rights.
“Our objective going into this process was a growth plan for exposure across the key planks of both tennis and non-tennis content, and the Nine offer best met these requirements. Nine’s commitment to additional tennis programing year-round was also aligned to our strategy.
“There are components within this new agreement which we believe will help us further grow our events and the sport of tennis.”
Tom Malone, Nine’s Director of Sport, said: “We are delighted that Wide World of Sports will become the new home of tennis in Australia. The Australian Open is an incredible tournament and event which will complement our existing rights across NRL, State of Origin, Netball and The Masters, as well as providing benefits to our news, entertainment and lifestyle pillars.
“Critical to this deal is the exclusive acquisition of all rights, which means we are unrestricted in our ability to serve tennis to audiences across the country anytime, anywhere, on the platform of their choosing.”
The Tennis Australia deal will also bring attention to events built around tennis, food, kids and music, with Nine brands The Voice and Family Food Fight expected to align around events. Nine has not ruled out deals with other industry stakeholders for other distribution.
Nine is currently in negotiations with Cricket Australia for broadcasting rights and it is yet to be determined how the new Tennis deal will affect deep pockets and summer scheduling.
Director of Sport Tom Malone sent a note to staff to advise, “It does not mean we won’t continue to pursue Cricket. We are still in a good position on Cricket, and we still have a desire to secure rights to Cricket at the right price and terms. As Hugh has said all along, we won’t be paying more money for sports rights, but we can afford to pay money for sports rights if it’s on terms which enable us to distribute and commercialise the content across all platforms.”
A Seven West Media spokesperson said, “We have an incredibly long and proud history with Australian tennis. We have delivered so many milestones to grow the game.
“Seven was the first to deliver the game on multi-channels, the first to live stream and the first to deliver every single match across the screens of Seven to every Australian, along with consistently innovating the broadcast on the way.
“Our strategy of delivering value for our shareholders and engagement for our clients remains firm. We build brands and we create success for our partners, and will continue to do so.
“But, we have been consistent and steady in what we have said about the economics of sports rights – the deal has to make commercial sense or we will step away.
“We wish Nine and everyone at Tennis Australia good luck.”
This post updates.