Tennis

Ashleigh Barty’s Australian Open win opens $500m battle with media outlet

Ashleigh Barty
Ashleigh Barty. Photo/Indian Express
  • Ashleigh Barty’s Australian Open victory could cost Channel Nine up to $500 million
  • Channel Nine struck gold with its coverage of Rafael Nadal’s incredible comeback victory and Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis winning the doubles title.
Ashleigh Barty’s Australian Open

Ashleigh Barty. Photo/New York Times

Ashleigh Barty’s Australian Open victory could cost Channel Nine up to $500 million if they want to renew their broadcast agreement with Tennis Australia, reports indicate.

As a result of her victory at Melbourne Park, Barty became the first Australian woman in 44 years to win the home Grand Slam.

A record-breaking 4.2 million people tuned in to watch her win over Danielle Collins in the Australian Open women’s singles final.

Since the introduction of the TV rating system in 1999, that was the largest audience to watch a women’s final in Australia.

Barty upset Grand Slam final debutante Collins 6-3 7-6 to become the first home winner since 1978.

Channel Nine struck gold with its coverage of Rafael Nadal’s incredible comeback victory and Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis winning the doubles title.

However, according to The Australian, the network’s ratings bonanza could cost them a lot of money when they negotiate with Tennis Australia in the near future.

It’s worth $300 million over five years – $60 million per year, and it’ll last until 2024.

A $400 million deal is being ‘whispered,’ according to columnist Nick Tabakoff, when it comes to TA’s next broadcasting agreement.

In order to secure the rights to broadcast the Australian Open on television, networks may be required to pay up to $500 million.

Networks Seven and Nine swapped tennis and cricket coverage in 2018 and are now interested in regaining the rights.

As a result of Seven’s shocking move, Nine was able to secure the rights to the tennis tournament.

Although seven executives have publicly expressed their disdain for Cricket Australia, CEO James Warburton called them “the most incompetent administration I’ve ever worked with”.

Tennis Australia is in good shape if Seven and Nine engage in a bidding war.

This year’s Australian Open will still lose money due to a government-imposed cap on crowds in 2022. But TA CEO Craig Tiley predicted that Barty’s victory would help them emerge from the pandemic with no debt.

TA had hoped that this year’s event would help replenish its cash reserves, which had been depleted by $80 million and a $40 million loan to stage the 2021 event.

“We were restricted this year to 50 per cent (crowd capacity) for most of the event,” Tiley told AAP. “We’re now at 80 per cent but still it’s pretty late – but we’ll take anything.

Craig Tiley

Craig Tiley. Photo/The Guardian

“I think we’ll still lose money this year but our recovery’s started and when we get to 2023 we’ll bounce back real fast and we’ll put ourselves back in a very positive position.”

Tiley stated that Tennis Australia invested a lot of infrastructure in developing the product over the last few years, and that we’ve seen an exponential rise in (playing) participation during Covid.

He added that the government’s survey is not theirs, so it’s comparable to all other surveys.

With Barty’s success, he noted, they have the marketing vehicle that can match with the infrastructure already in place to see really strong growth in tennis.

TA is encouraging young girls and boys to always be inspired by Ashleigh Barty. This is good for the tennis body in its subsequent campaign.

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