Fox Sports has plans to shake up the Australian Cricket broadcast landscape with details emerging of a bid to secure broadcast rights to the game in Australia.
The Australian Financial Review is reporting Fox Sports intends to launch a bid to secure broadcast rights for all International Test Matches, One Day Internationals, and Twenty20 International Matches played in Australia.
Fox Sports is understood to also be planning a bid that would see it secure exclusive rights to part of the KFC Big Bash competition.
Fox Sports was the original broadcaster of the KFC Big Bash and helped develop the concept with Cricket Australia. The pay-tv channel was blind-sided when Ten secured the rights in 2013.
Now without the English Premier League and audiences for the A-League failing to develop, Fox Sports is worried about maintaining subscribers over summer and is willing to invest heavily to become the home of cricket.
Australian sport anti-syphoning legislation prevents pay-tv broadcasters from holding exclusive rights to International cricket matches meaning Fox Sports will need to work with a Free-To-Air broadcaster, most likely the Nine Network to secure the rights.
Nine is keen to secure rights for the KFC Big Bash away from TEN. Advertisers have moved away from the more traditional forms of the game, preferring to invest their money in the Big Bash, which attracts a far more youthful audience. However the network is short on cash and will likely need the help of Fox Sports to secure all the rights it desires.
Nine's CEO Hugh Marks has already signalled he's cautious about investing significantly more cash for cricket rights. In an interview with The Australian last week he stated:
“There was big step up last contract so I think if there was another big step up it would really make it uneconomical,"
“I think the job is to look at the whole package — look at where it will end up as a whole and work out what sort of rights and other things will go to funding and increasing cricket that doesn’t come down to us paying more on our international rights."
“There won’t be an increase like there was last time.”
The Ten Network is expected to place a massive bid to maintain exclusive rights to the KFC Big Bash, but may also consider a split deal with Fox Sports if the price escalates to high.
If Fox Sports is successful with this bold bid, it will be required to simulcast much of the International cricket matches due to government legislation.
Next year Fox Sports will convert one of its current sports channels into a dedicated NRL channel. However the channel could also be used as a dedicated home of cricket during summer.
Fox Sports would then use its own commentary team and the promise of less advertising to draw viewers away from Nine.