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Seven ‘stepping into the shoes’ of 10 in new TV deal

Daniel Herrero

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Thursday 24th September, 2020 - 1:43pm

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Mark Beretta interviews Mark Winterbottom for Seven in 2012

The Seven Network’s Supercars television allocation will be largely similar to Network 10’s current deal, plus enhancements in its digital offering, Supercars CEO Sean Seamer has explained.

Seven has effectively replaced 10 as the free-to-air broadcaster alongside Fox Sports in Supercars’ newly announced television rights deal, which runs from 2021 to 2025.

Despite suggestions that Seven may broadcast some Sunday sprint races, it has been confirmed that its live offering will be limited to the six to seven marquee events (pending the fate of the 2021 Bathurst 12 Hour which is part of Seven’s deal), the identities of which depend in part on finalisation of a calendar.

There will be some enhancement of the highlights component of the free-to-air allocation, however, thanks to the step up in digital rights which Seven holds relative to Network 10’s current deal.

Highlights of non-FTA events will appear on the 7Plus digital service at 20:30, around two hours earlier than Saturday highlights packages have been airing on 10 Bold of late.

Seven will also have simultaneous digital rights, which Network 10 did not enjoy in the present agreement.

“The first thing that we need to do is lock down next year’s calendar and then we’ll be working the broadcast coverage back from that,” Seamer explained to selected media, including Speedcafe.com.

“The easiest way to express the package that we’re working with Channel 7 on is (that) they’re stepping into Channel 10’s shoes but they’re picking up the simultaneous digital rights.

“So, for the rounds that Channel 7 aren’t covering (live), there will be an awful lot of coverage available very quickly, from 8:30pm on 7Plus.

“So, just to be clear, that’s a total of six rounds plus the Bathurst 12 Hour that Channel 7 will be taking.”

Asked if that represented a “hard no” on Sunday sprints at other events, Seamer responded, “Yes it is.”

As to why there are not more events on live free-to-air television, protecting the value which Foxtel/Fox Sports achieves from the deal appears to be the reason.

“All of the partners need to make sure that they’re getting value out of the way that the coverage is split up throughout the course of the year,” said Seamer.

The Supercars boss nevertheless hailed the deal with Seven, which not only vies for ratings supremacy in Australia with Nine, but was also the traditional home of the Australian Touring Car Championship and most recently telecast Supercars from 2007 to 2014.

“We’re really happy with Channel 7,” he pronounced.

“I think that the key point to make about Channel 7 is obviously their overall reach is extremely strong across Australia but, beyond that, you’ve got a bunch of people that understand Supercars culturally, so we will be able to maximise that reach.

“There’s a committed group of people that genuinely care about the sport, not least of course my predecessor (ex-Supercars CEO and now Seven West Media CEO James Warburton), but whether it’s Mark Beretta (presenter) or Kurt Burnette (Chief Revenue Officer) and their commercial team, there’s a really good group of people over there that care a lot about Supercars and we’re really looking forward to working with them.”

Seven’s last run as a Supercars rights holder began with long delays of some telecasts and others shoehorned around AFL matches, before the advent of multichannels saw 7mate provide an outlet for live coverage where clashes with other sport or news programming occurred.

The male-skewed channel may be employed again to meet such a juggle, although that is also still to be determined.

“We’ll work through that with Seven once we lock down the calendar,” advised Seamer.

“Obviously, we’ve got multiple timezones that we need to factor in as well, and account for that.

“Every year when we put the calendar together, we spend a tremendous amount of time with the networks on our scheduling to maximise our ability to get clear air, so that’s something that we’ll work through once the calendar’s locked in.

“Then the next stage is we go into the specific scheduling. But, I’m sure you can imagine, when we’re laying down the calendar, we’re also looking at other major sporting events including the launch of the AFL, but also the AFL Finals.”

Two events remain in the 2020 season, the last of the current Fox Sports/Network 10 deal.

This weekend’s OTR SuperSprint The Bend will be exclusively live on Fox Sports, before October’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 is telecast live on both pay and free-to-air television.

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