V8 Supercars CEO David Malone says he remains confident of a strong outcome for the category as negotiations over its new media rights deal continue.
The current free-to-air television, subscription television and online rights agreements with the Seven Network, Fox Sports and Telstra Bigpond respectively are all set to expire at the conclusion of this year.
Network Ten has emerged as the favourite to take back the free-to-air rights from Seven, with the latter having already splurged heavily on the AFL’s much publicised $1.25 billion rights-winning partnership with Fox Sports. A move to Nine has also been rumoured, although the network is on the verge of completing a similarly large deal alongside Fox for the NRL.
The key to Ten’s V8 Supercars bid is understood to centre around its willingness to show the sport nationally on its main channel, as well as its ability to leverage across its existing motorsport properties. Seven has split its V8 coverage with its lower-rating 7mate in recent years – a situation that caused significant friction between the category and the network.
Having earned $172 million from its current six-year deal, V8 Supercars is reportedly looking for offers in the $200-$300 million bracket for a five-year contract.
Negotiations also continue with Fox over beefing up the V8 Supercars’ current subscription television presence on its motorsport-dedicated Speed channel, which could potentially see it simulcast races alongside the free-to-air coverage.
While unable to comment on the specifics of the current negotiations, Malone believes the record-setting prices achieved by both Australian football codes for their media rights should be seen as a sign of the strong value of live sport, rather than a weakening of V8 Supercars’ position in the market.
“I’m very confident that we’ll be able to structure some really good arrangements from 2013 forward across all our media platforms,” Malone told Speedcafe.com.
“I think it’s safe to say that live sports rights are very valuable content, which is why you continue to see the increases that we’re seeing. I think we’ve got a very good product, we’ve got over 150 hours of content to provide, and I think with that sort of content we’re well positioned in the current market.”
The future of the online rights, meanwhile, remains unclear. Telstra recently announced that it will not renew its Tradingpost-branded sponsorship of Ford Performance Racing, but is yet to confirm plans for either its online rights or platform sponsorship deals with V8 Supercars.
According to Malone, nothing has yet been ruled out for the online rights, including the possibility of bundling them with the television rights in a similar manner to Ten’s current deal with Formula 1.
“We’ve got an open mind – there are so many different ways these deals can be put together,” said Malone of the online sphere. “It really depends on the sorts of proposals that are put to us over the next few weeks.”
Malone says it is difficult to put a time frame on concluding the negotiations, but admits that the category would like all deals to be completed as soon as possible.
“We’d like to get it done sooner rather than later, but in my experience of media rights negotiations it’s difficult to put a time frame on them,” he said.
“You just have to work with the various parties and try to get the deals done in a time frame that the market allows. Clearly I’d like to get it done as soon as we can.”