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Ten's trouble to affect BBL rights: expert

Network Ten's precarious financial position could compromise the looming battle for Big Bash League broadcast rights that are set to fetch $250-300 million.

Ten's trouble to affect BBL rights: expert

Network Ten's precarious financial position could compromise the looming battle for Big Bash League broadcast rights that are set to fetch $250-300 million.

Colin Smith, one of the nation's eminent sports media-rights strategists, believes Network Ten's precarious financial position looms as a serious issue for Cricket Australia.

Ten entered a trading halt on Tuesday and could yet tumble into voluntary administration. The future of the free-to-air broadcaster has been placed into fresh doubt as it attempts to refinance a crippling loan.


Billionaire shareholders Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon have confirmed they will not guarantee Ten's $250 million debt renewal due in December.

Network Ten secured TV rights for the Big Bash League on a five-year deal worth $100 million. That contract expires next year.

The Twenty20 league has been one of Ten's greatest success stories in recent years, attracting bumper ratings.

However, with the asking price expected to reach about $250-300 million, it is becoming increasingly hard to imagine how Ten will hold onto the BBL and women's BBL.

The Nine Network has already made it clear they want to tap into the T20 bonanza.

"I can't see how Cricket Australia could do a deal with Network Ten under the current circumstances," Smith told AAP.

"You won't want to sell your rights to an organisation without some sort of bank guarantee if there's ongoing concerns.

"That's a serious issue for Cricket Australia. It wouldn't surprise me if they either delay the rights or have some other party underwrite it."

CA is preoccupied by protracted pay talks with players and won't turn its attention to the TV rights deal until later this year.

The sorry state of Ten could potentially comprise negotiations and help Nine become the competition's new home. However, broadcasting and bidding for a money-spinner like the BBL is likely to remain one of Ten's priorities even if it is put into receivership.

"No receiver-manager would want to pass up the Big Bash because it's so important to their summer ratings and therefore their summer advertising revenue," Global Media and Sport director Smith noted.

"But Ten will most likely require a big brother (to help bid for BBL rights).

"Foxtel already owns a slice of Ten and BBL isn't on the anti-siphoning list, so where will Fox Sports sit in the picture?

"Equally, Cricket Australia's desire will be to have the major portion of the BBL on free to air."

The Seven Network boasts the broadcast rights for the Australian Open tennis until 2019 and is yet to show its hand publicly on BBL rights.

"They could be serious bidders for Big Bash. I have no inkling they are going to but, in the past, they have been interested in cricket," Smith said.

"How you program that with two weeks of the Australian Open, I don't know."

AAP


AAP



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