Is Ten about to take on further sport rights deals?

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 29 May 2019

Network Ten is facing an opportunity to pick up further sporting rights as Rugby Australia and the Football Federation Australia (FFA) look to gain further free-to-air traction.

As it stands the FFA and Rugby Australia are currently dealing with major downturns in viewership and attendance, with sources claiming each is looking to turnaround their respective leagues.

However, for both the A-League and Super Rugby, the difficulty lies in current deals in place with pay-TV provider Foxtel, which holds the majority of the rights for both codes.

Foxtel revealed earlier this month that it would be looking to scale back on its sporting rights deals, with industry insiders saying the A-League and Super Rugby rights are likely to be the first to hit the chopping block.

Ten chief sales officer Rod Prosser told AdNews the network's view on sporting rights is unchanged, stating that while sport is an "important mix" in a schedule, the right deal has to deliver on both ratings and revenue.

Ten has been tipped as the most likely to negotiate with Foxtel and the sporting bodies overtaking on more rights, should the pay-TV provider scale back, as Ten's sporting calendar has lessened following the shift in cricket rights last year to Seven and Foxtel.

"We've got to do our due diligence on both of those and we're going through that process but the reality it could become such an interesting model for us because we've not owned either before," Prosser says.

Rod Prosser (New)Ten's Rod Prosser

Not in recent years has a free-to-air network solely owned the rights of one sporting code alone, with the closest example being Nine and Ten's shared deal with Cricket Australia.

With Rugby Australia in a troubled financial situation, with sources claiming the current Israel Folau deal has the capacity to "make or break" its future and the A-League's audiences dwindling below 100,000 a game, each could benefit from a new broadcaster.

"We need to have a model that just works and sometimes a shared model will but I think with both of those particular sporting codes that you talk about, there's a lot of deeper consideration to be made," Prosser says.

"It's interesting in terms of the way that it's been done in the past and where I think we need it to be to make it viable."

Despite the possible interest from Ten, the network remains focused on successfully launching its first year back as the rights holders for the Melbourne Cup Carnival and continuing its 50-week content slate proposition.

Ten chief content officer Beverley McGarvey told AdNews that this would remain a focus for the business as it used that 50 weeks of content to further drive its focus on targeting audiences under 50.

Yesterday, Ten made a slew of announcements, with the appointment of a new digital sales director, the return of its Pilot Week initiative and an update on its new data offering.

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