News Corp opens advertiser bidding for exclusive sports code coverage

By Chris Pash | 20 March 2019

News Corp Australia is offering brands exclusive run of all its titles and platforms for sporting code coverage, allowing them to own a whole category by blocking out competitors. 

Advertisers will, for example, be able to buy the right to have their brand run alongside all News' coverage of the AFL.

The initiative, rolled out at its annual  Come Together 2019 showcase event on Tuesday, is called Code Block and includes AFL, NRL, cricket, motorsport and racing.

Michael Miller, the executive chairman at News, told AdNews the rights would be first offered to the brand sponsoring that code of sport.

"We have a very good relationship with all the sporting codes," he says. 

"We will work with their partners with a category exclusivity offer first, even though we're contractually not obliged, but we think that is the right thing to do.

"If it's Toyota and the AFL, we give them a reasonable amount of time to accept ... and then take it to the market which allows us to price it accordingly." 

He says the approach brings a certain "competitive intensity". He would not be drawn on the price for exclusivity but said there was a floor, or a low point where a deal would not be viable. 

"Some people will pay a lot to have their name associated with (a code)," he says.

"I think we're living in a dynamic market whereby prices ... need to be far more flexible."

The deals being offered include blocking out other brands from an entire code or just one big sporting event. 

"It's a competitive process we now run," Miller says. "It doesn't work for every category."

News has previoiusly run with brand exclusive on some of its titles.

The Courier-Mail, The Advertiser in Adelaide and the NT News have had Ladbrokes as an exclusive gaming brand for two years. That deal was done with one agreement.

The other current initative is Recipe Rebrand, where advertisers can block out the competition by inserting their brands in up to 100,000 recipes across the entire News Food network.

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