Mitchell Johnson of the Scorchers carries the trophy after his side won the BBL06 title.
Mitchell Johnson of the Scorchers carries the trophy after his side won the BBL06 title. RICHARD WAINWRIGHT

Channel Ten facing a battle to keep Big Bash rights

CHANNEL Ten may need to pay more than the station is worth if it is to retain rights to the Big Bash.

Ten's challenging financial predicament means its hold on the cherished rights to the mega-rating Twenty20 competition are under extreme threat from Channel Nine.

Ten paid $100 million for a five-year deal, which expires at the end of next season.

That contract was called "the bargain of the century" by television executives but there will be nothing cheap about the next deal, with Cricket Australia hoping to get as much as $250 million for the same period.

On Monday, Ten's market worth was $166 million after a rugged year that has featured poor ratings and the looming challenge of a $200 million debt to be repaid by December 23.

The station faces the difficult prospect of having to "sell the farm" to stay in the hunt to retain the Big Bash or let it go and lose not just a huge ratings winner but a crucial promotion vehicle for its own shows.

Ten is part owned by Foxtel and there is a possibility that Fox Sports could share the financial load in a bidding war against Nine.

But unlike rugby league and Australian rules, where Fox is happy to screen matches also broadcast by free-to-air stations, Fox would only be interested in the deal if it could get exclusive rights to some matches, which could sell subscriptions and be sure-fire ratings winners.

Nine has declared it will chase the Big Bash rights hard as well as trying to retain rights for international matches it has held for more than three decades.

News Corp Australia

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