BBL content slashed as Australia signs $1 bln deal with Seven, Foxtel

Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL) will be reduced to a 43-game season from its current 61 fixtures under a new A$1.51 billion ($1 billion) broadcast deal between Cricket Australia (CA) and existing media partners Seven Network and Foxtel.

As part of the seven-year deal running from 2024-2031, free-to-air broadcaster Seven has also agreed to end legal action against CA over a perceived lack of quality in the BBL, the country’s domestic T20 tournament, CA said on Tuesday.

The deal comes after domestic rivals Network 10, owned by U.S. media giant Paramount, and the Nine Network expressed interest in the rights.

“The quality and reach of the Foxtel Group and Seven’s cricket production is first class and the outstanding service they provide cricket fans was a strong consideration in our decision to continue with this successful partnership,” CA boss Nick Hockley said in a statement on Tuesday.

However, Seven and CA had been at loggerheads since 2020, with the broadcaster threatening to pull out of the ongoing contract and filing court proceedings in June.

Seven said on Tuesday it would pay A$65 million a year in the new deal, a 13% reduction on the current one, and would save more than A$50 million in cash over the term from reduced fees and production costs.

CA said BBL content was reduced in the new deal to allow for “increased player availability, greater proportion of prime-time matches and stronger alignment with school holidays”.

The deal includes Australian men’s and women’s internationals, with a hike in women’s content in the first three years, CA said.

It comes four months after Seven and pay-TV provider Foxtel paid A$4.5 billion to extend their broadcast contract with the Australian Football League from 2025-2031, the biggest sports rights deal in the country’s history.

Foxtel boss Patrick Delany hailed the deal on Tuesday and also announced that Australia’s long-serving opening batsman David Warner was joining the group’s commentary team on the Fox Cricket channel.

Two of the channel’s commentators, former Australia cricketers Shane Warne and Andrew Symonds, died last year.

“If you had one shot … at a commentator of the current crop to replace those two, you’d probably have to say Dave Warner is the name,” he told reporters in Sydney.

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