Boom TV rights offer looms as cricket’s ‘get out of jail card’

    The knock-back narrows down the options available to CA as its soft Christmas Day deadline passed with still no deal done.Fox Sports is in the box seat to be retained as cricket’s pay per view and streaming partner, and link with either Channel 7 or Channel 9 — whoever the free-to-air victor might be — but CA appears to be desperately holding out for more money.Paramount-Channel 10 cannot be discounted due to the magnitude of the offer it has put on the table (tens of millions of dollars more than the next best package over the five years). But every indication from CA suggests it is nervous about linking exclusively with a streaming service that has so little sporting reach, and a free-to-air network, which is bottoming out.Current rights holders Seven and Fox are the most compatible partners and a virtual rollover of their current deal has been all-but agreed upon between those two parties.But whether CA accepts the offer may yet hinge on whether Channel 7 is willing to up its bid.There are doubts about what Channel 9’s massive outlay on claiming the Olympic Games rights from Seven might have on its ability to bid for cricket, especially when it already pays upwards of $100 million a year for the other major summer sport, Australian Open tennis.It’s understood Nine is yet to formally submit a bid.Leading sports media right analyst Colin Smith, head of Global Media and Sports, believes Paramount may have saved Cricket Australia from embarrassment, even if the US streaming giant is once again consigned to being left at the altar as sports rights bridesmaids. “I think Paramount’s offer has given Cricket Australia a get out of jail card,’’ Smith said.“I saw where the chairman of Cricket Australia (Lachlan Henderson) said the cricket rights were undervalued, but I don’t believe that is correct.“I actually felt that the rights may have significantly decreased in price this time.“If it wasn’t for Paramount having to make such a large offer because Channel 10 is so keen for sports content, they may have fallen.”Whatever happens, Cricket Australia appears destined to achieve an increase on the $1.182 billion broadcasting deal it signed back in 2018, which industry experts believe would be a mighty effort given the deflation of the Big Bash and the whims of a patchy Test schedule.It’s understood the number of Big Bash games is set to be slashed by approximately 20 per season, a necessary revamp according to Smith, who was consulted when the competition was originally conceived. Smith said it was obvious why CA was baulking at going with Paramount and Channel 10.“The thing is that while Channel 7 and 9 have a great record as a sports broadcaster, Channel 10 doesn’t,” Smith said.“The Melbourne Cup has halved its audience since it went to Ten and it has been a long time between drinks since they broadcast the Big Bash and the AFL.“Whatever broadcaster gets the rights has to revamp the Big Bash. They expanded the Big Bash to the point where it has too much content. I was an advisor when the Big Bash was being set up and it is not doing what it was supposed to do.“There are not enough big club rivalries. And there has to be a clause in Australian players contracts that they must play the Big Bash.’’

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