Regional broadcaster WIN Corporation has sold its Nine Network affiliate in Adelaide — NWS — to Nine Entertainment Co., the company that owns the Nine stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin and regional network NBN. The deal will also allow provision for WIN to sell its Perth station (STW) to Nine Entertainment Co. should the federal government lift the lid on the 75 per cent audience limit currently imposed on commercial broadcasters.
At the moment Nine would exceed the 75 per cent limit if it was to include Perth in its network.
Nine’s national ratings have often been dragged down by the WIN-owned Nines in Perth and Adelaide which struggle to match Seven in those cities. By bringing the Adelaide, and potentially Perth, channel under the Nine management they will seek to bring them into line with the higher rating east coast stations.
The deal between Nine and WIN also includes a negotiated increase to the regional network’s affiliation fee for the supply of networked programming from Nine. This ends much speculation in media that Nine was seeking to switch its regional affiliation from WIN to Southern Cross Austereo, and that WIN owner Bruce Gordon was seeking to align WIN to the Ten Network, where he has significant financial interest.
Nine has also announced it will match the Ten Network’s bold $500 million bid for Test and one day cricket, including The Ashes, for the next five years. Nine had last-offer rights to match any competitor’s bid but the financial commitment in doing so was of concern to its US-based hedge fund owners. Their concerns were alleviated slightly by the prospect of Nine Entertainment Co. gaining control of the Adelaide and Perth stations and the renegotiated agreement with WIN.
The $500 million price tag is more than double Nine’s previous rights deal but continues the network’s tradition of cricket coverage dating back to Kerry Packer‘s controversial World Series Cricket in 1977.
But despite Ten losing out on Test and one day cricket it has been successful in gaining the rights to the domestic Big Bash League from Fox Sports at a cost of $20 million a year. Ten’s new CEO Hamish McLennan is keen to use sport to boost the network’s ailing profile and the Big Bash League deal follows Ten’s successful bid for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia.