Network Ten has secured the broadcast rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, covering all platforms including free-to-air and subscription television, internet and mobile phone. The move was widely anticipated and forms part of the network's strategy to boost ratings under new CEO Hamish McLennan.
However, while a step in the right direction, media agencies have said it may be that is too early to gauge the ratings uplift, and that Ten needs to pack a heavier sporting punch, whether or not it lands the cricket.
The company signed an agreement with the International Olympics Committee (IOC) overnight, and announced the news on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) this morning.
Ten's bid for the rights had been heavily followed by the media, including the Australian Financial Review (AFR) which reported yesterday it had offered about $20 million for the deal. The article also suggested it was after the cricket broadcast rights for the next five years and had coughed up a hefty $500 million cash offer.
Chris Mort, CEO of independent media agency TMS, said that "cricket was very important for this audience as opposed to something like the Winter Olympics." However, he said the "scale of the event would help [Ten's] brand."
PHD chief Mark Coad said Ten would "need more" to see a significant ratings boost. "It's a clear statement of intent but that alone won't do it."
Ian Perrin, CEO of ZenithOptimedia, said the deal was a "component" of Ten's sporting and audience strategy, "but it was still too early" to say whether it would work.
"It's an interesting acquisition. The games are in prime time and they will likely put a lot of it on ONE so it's an interesting move but it is too early to say as part of its overall strategy whether it will have an impact on ratings."
Ten chief executive officer and managing director Hamish McLennan said: "We are delighted that Ten will be Australia's Olympics network in 2014. The agreement with the IOC delivers on our strategy to increase our investment in premium sport."
IOC Finance Commission chairman Richard Carrion said: "Ten is an experienced sports broadcaster with a clear passion for the Olympic Games. The agreement ensures there will be extensive free television coverage of the next year's Olympic Winter Games, as well as the very best broadcast coverage on other media platforms, including online and mobile".
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