Australia's summer of tennis is heading to Channel 9, with the network outbidding long-time broadcaster Seven in a whopping $300 million deal.
Channel 9 has secured the broadcasting rights to the summer of tennis from 2020 in what is a huge coup for the network.
Nine will pay Tennis Australia $300 million over five years to host the Australian Open and lead up events, ending the Seven Network’s almost 50-year partnership with the Australian Open.
The deal covers rights for broadcast, streaming, mobile, digital and social platforms for the Australian Open, the Hopman Cup, and the Brisbane, Sydney and Hobart internationals, Nine said in a statement.
“The Australian Open is consistently among the most watched programs of the year. Last year’s men’s final was the second most watched program of 2017, with a national average audience of 3.64 million,” the statement reads.
“This year’s men’s final secured a national average audience of 2.369 million and is currently ranked as the number one sports program and the third most watched program on Australian television so far in 2018.”
Hugh Marks, CEO of Nine, said: “We are thrilled to have secured the rights to premium Australian tennis, particularly the Australian Open. The timing of tennis and the audience demographics it delivers are a perfect fit for Nine and its advertisers.
“We share Tennis Australia’s passion to grow its events, particularly the Australian Open, and expand its broadcast proposition in this country. To say we are excited to be part of that future is an understatement.
Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley added: “This is a landmark deal for Tennis Australia and we are very excited to partner with the Nine Network for the next five years.”
“We look forward to working with the Nine Network team to grow our audience, meet changing viewer habits and bring the full AO experience to life.”
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) March 29, 2018
“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.
“Our objective going into this process was a growth plan for exposure across the key planks of both tennis and non-tennis content, and the Nine offer best met these requirements.”
Nine’s director of sport Tom Malone said the tennis coverage would complement the other packages under the Wide World of Sport umbrella — the NRL, State of Origin, Netball and The Masters.
There was no mention of the cricket, which is in the middle of free-to-air and pay TV negotiations, and has been badly damaged by the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.