Australian commercial broadcaster Nine has snatched the domestic rights to the Australian Open tennis grand slam from rival Seven from 2020.
The five-year deal, which will run until 2024, is worth a total of Aus$300m (€187m/$230m/R2,7 Billion), or Aus$60m per year – up from a reported Aus$35m per year in the current agreement with Seven.
Seven’s exclusive negotiating period over a possible renewal ended earlier this month, News.com.au reported. The shock agreement will bring to an end Seven’s coverage of the Australian Open, stretching back more than four decades.
The deal with Tennis Australia also includes warm-up tournaments in Brisbane, Hobart and Sydney ahead of the grand slam.
“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,” Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said.
Last year’s Australian Open men’s final attracted the second highest audience of any sports programme in 2017, with an average of 3.64 million viewers tuning in. The 2018 men’s final is currently ranked as the No.1 sports programme on Australian screens so far this year with an average audience of 2.369 million viewers.
Nine, Seven and rival commercial broadcaster Channel 10 are all also currently in the running for rights that have been put on the market by Cricket Australia, comprising Test matches, one-day internationals, Twenty20 international matches and the format’s domestic Big Bash League, from 2019.
Nine’s acquisition of Australian Open rights could lead to the broadcaster ceasing its coverage of Australian cricket, which it has shown since the 1970s.