8.9% ownership of something doesn’t sound like much, unless, perhaps, it is of course of something substantial like Facebook or Apple.
Anyhow, I’ll come back to that in a minute. Just like the movie Kramer v Kramer, this piece is about a battle for someones precious little baby.
Ladies and Gentlemen…..I give you….PACKER v PACKER
Remember Kerry Packer? You know, the guy that created World Series Cricket, introduced coloured uniforms, night games and told the stuffy old guys at Lords to “get stuffed”.
Kerry Packer, or Mr Packer as he was known by the proletariat, was also Channel 9 royalty. Through Channel 9, Mr Packer not only changed the game forever, but brought into our living rooms names and sounds that we treasure such as Mr Benaud, Mr Lawry, Mr Greig, Mr Chappell and for some time at least, Mr Walker.
These guys were the sound of cricket, the voices and the commentary. They defined Channel 9. They also made Channel 9 a powerhouse financially. Think BCCI, but with some morals, corporate governance and a level of respect for the game.
Mr Packer was obviously wise. In regards to his broadcast rights, he ensured that when he took them, it was negotiated with a right to match any offer from any rival. As we speak, a rival exists for the next lot of rights.
That rival, is well, Mr Packer (the younger version).
You see, James Packer, as 8.9% owner of Channel 10.
Mr Packer (the one still alive) has allegedly offered Cricket Australia $500m for the rights. He wants Kerry’s baby. No big deal really as Channel 9 will gladly offer the same. However, Channel 10′s offer comes with a nice sweetener, and one that the Australian game desperately needs.
Channel 10 is offering to broadcast domestic Shield, Ryobi ODI and the Big Bash games on its Free to Air (FTA) channels. They are betting that the Australian public wants more domestic cricket than they can currently consume via Fox’s pay TV service, which only covers the Shield Final, some Ryobi cup matches and the Big Bash.
Channel 9 don’t like this as they don’t want to offer the same. They could maybe settle for more FTA Shield and ODI’s, but have zero interest in the Big Bash. As part of Channel 10′s $500m offer, $100m of that is for the Big Bash. The same Big Bash that lost $11m last year as a stand alone venture and may not be around in five years time. Don’t let Cricket Australia’s published profit of $1.5m fool you. That is a rolled up profit figure that includes revenue from other sources.
Speaking of money, a Channel 10 insider believes that these rights could cost the broadcaster up to $60m in losses. However, it is seen as a worthy investment if it can help define the network as a serious mainstream sports player again.
Therefore, the courts are now involved as Channel 9 argue that their right to match clause is only fixed on the dollar amount of what they had 5 years ago before the Big Bash even existed, and not what is broadcast. Cricket Australia disagrees. We go to court on May 31 in a legal equivalent of a T20 match as this needs to be sorted out rather quickly given The Ashes are coming.
Channel 10 will not just take the Big Bash for $100m as it is then hard to justify the investment needed to cover the sport properly. Channel 10 may throw up the odd ‘The Shire’ and ‘Being Lara Bingle’, and may have turned over 3 CEO’s in 18 months, but when it comes to sport, they come into their own.
Don’t believe me? Watch any of their motorsport coverage, and their AFL coverage was a standout when they were there.
Original content like “Before the Game”, introducing ONEHD as a 24 hr HD sports channel and the pioneers in 1993 with Sports Tonight as an ESPN SportsCentre take off.
Channel 10 are leaders in sport, not crusty old followers.
Channel 10 currently only have Ryan Campbell and Andrew Maher on staff as cricket experts. However, a few dark horses exist within the ranks. Quartermain, legend Tim Lane and Anthony Hudson would all make wonderful ‘Richie’ style hosts. However, the standout is the man with the Tom Waterhouse smile…… Peter Donegan:
Expect to see some new blood from the past player list that might surprise. A bigger role for the under-used MacGill and Damien Martyn would be enticing. What about luring Colin “Funky” Miller back from Las Vegas? Fleming from the ABC? Dean Jones….well, no.
That all sounds rather attractive. Compare that with the now stale Channel 9 team. Apart from when Richie (long live the King) and Bill are together, the rest are just utter rubbish. Healy, Slater, Brayshaw and Warne can’t stop talking and fighting amongst themselves like schoolgirls on Summer Heights High. Mark Nicholas tries hard but lack credibility and as Seal would say on The Voice “..he fails to connect with the audience”.
I’ve seen enough memorabilia to fill all the pool rooms in China. The Cricket Show is tired and it is only a matter of time until Billy Baxter stops telling us the odds and Tom Waterhouse destroys another part of Australian culture.
After so many years, it is time for a change. We would get a fresh set of voices and views, HD broadcasts on Channel One, innovative technology that isn’t a new graph or spider cam and Channel 10′s fantastic sporting directors.
Thanks for the memories Channel 9. You did good. But now it’s time for the next team to have a crack.
We will miss you Richie
Originally published at The Armchair Selector