Ten punts $100 million on Melbourne Cup broadcast rights
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Ten punts $100 million on Melbourne Cup broadcast rights

Network Ten has taken a $100 million punt on the Melbourne Cup outbidding rival network Seven West Media for the 20 day horse racing festival.

Australian racing fans will tune into Channel Ten from 2019 to 2023 to watch four days of live broadcasts of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, including AAMI Victoria Derby Day, Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, Kennedy Oaks Day and Seppelt Wines Stakes Day, after a $20 million-a-year agreement between Ten and the Victoria Racing Club was signed on Monday.

The value of the deal is a "combination" of cash and contra. The rights include free-to-air TV broadcasting, internet, social media, mobile, over-the-top, smart TVs and set-top boxes. Racing.com will provide live coverage of the races on its channels and app. The deal excludes live vision streaming rights for Wagering Service Providers.

Melbourne Cup will be on Channel Ten in 2019.

Melbourne Cup will be on Channel Ten in 2019. Credit:AAP

Group 1 racing from Flemington will be aired by Seven West Media until June 2020, with the 2018 Melbourne Cup also to stay on Seven.

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Seven was also bidding during the Melbourne Cup negotiations but was knocked out by Ten’s offer, which is understood to be "significantly" more. Seven recently spent a record $1.2 billion in a joint-bid with Foxtel for six years of cricket, ending Nine Entertainment Co’s stranglehold on Test games and taking Big Bash League from Ten. Nine also broke records spending $60 million a year for the rights to broadcast tennis for the five years to 2024.

Ten held the rights to the Melbourne Cup for 24 years but relinquished them in 2001.

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Network Ten chief executive Paul Anderson told Fairfax Media the VRC "have a strategy to broaden the coverage of their carnival beyond the four days” that would give more content and coverage year-round.

“It’s a global trend ... [they want to] broaden it beyond the horse racing itself to entertainment, food and fashion. What they can do with us is broaden that out across the year to integrate it across the year so it’s not just about four days in November," Mr Anderson said.

He declined to comment on the increase in spend between Ten and Seven’s likely offer, saying he looked at “these things on their merit. It’s the crown jewel in the horse racing calendar and we have an alignment with VRC in terms of our strategy and who they’re trying to attract with their sport”.

“It’s a whole of network approach, it’s not just our sports department that’s involved with this,” he said.

Ten drove high-ratings and redefined the Big Bash League over the last few years, making it highly sought-after in recent cricket rights negotiations as an event in the calendar that attracted new demographics to the sport.

It’s a whole of network approach, it’s not just our sports department that’s involved with this

Paul Anderson

He said the Melbourne Cup was a “global event” and said it was likely Ten-owner CBS would be able to leverage the rights to the 50 million homes it reaches in the US, but said he didn’t think he would be sharing any of the rights with pay-TV provider Foxtel given the Racing.com sublicence deal.

“In this day and age exclusivity is very important,” he said.

Victoria Racing Club chief executive Neil Wilson said the decision had been made after a “comprehensive tender process”.

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“This new agreement with Network Ten ensures that from 2019 Victorian thoroughbred racing will be profiled by two of the country’s biggest media entities, expanding the audience for racing, which can only deliver positive promotional benefits for our sport in what is a very competitive sports and entertainment landscape,” he said.

He said the rights were the “broadest” ever offered around the Melbourne Cup and were a “significant expansion” on previous agreements.

Jennifer Duke writes about media and telecommunications.

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