The Australian Open will be broadcast on Channel Nine in Australia from 2019. The agreement comes after a series of protracted negotiations between Nine, Tennis Australia and the Seven Network.
The deal sees exclusive live coverage of the first grand slam tournament of the annual tennis calendar move to free-to-air Nine a year earlier than had been initially planned. Nine had already agreed a US$300 million contract to secure the rights to the tournament from Seven from 2020.
However, this had been complicated by Seven’s deal to secure the rights to Australia’s domestic cricket from 2019. The result was a potential conflict, with the possibility of a clash between the Australian Open and an Australian Test match meaning that Seven were keen to offload their tennis rights twelve months earlier than their contractual obligation.
A failure to offload the rights this year would have meant that one of the tennis or cricket coverage on Seven would have been relegated from the network’s primary channel to one of its multi-channels.
Channel Nine has paid US$48.5 million to show the Melbourne-based tennis competition from 2019.
Craig Tiley, chief executive of Tennis Australia, said: “We’ve enjoyed a 40-plus year partnership with the Seven Network and are glad we could reach an agreement which is in all our best interests. We are excited by the move to Nine this summer and the opportunity it gives us to expand our content.”
The deal also gives Nine the rights to the Australian Open’s streaming, mobile, digital and social platforms, as well as the rights to the Australia-based tournaments in the build-up to the grand slam.