Channel 7 and Cricket Australia are confident there’ll be no lingering tensions after the free-to-air network dropped legal action weeks before a new broadcast deal was reached.
CA announced on Tuesday a new broadcast agreement worth $1.512 billion with Seven West Media and Foxtel Group to begin in 2024, with the partnership to go through until the 2030/31 season.
The monster extension – which includes streaming rights on Seven+ – comes after months of negotiations that could have seen the rights return to Channel 9 or even head to Channel 10 in a deal propped up by Paramount+.
Seven’s willingness to come to the table followed a terse 2022 that saw the network take legal action against CA, largely because they were unhappy with the standard of the BBL.
The new deal has seen that competition reduced to 43 matches, and it looks like both parties are in a more convivial mood after things threatened to get ugly last year.
“There’s no doubt our relationship has been tested, and there’s nothing left unsaid,” Seven Melbourne’s managing director Lewis Martin said.
“But here we are, and one of the things that kept constant was that we were united in both the love and the ambition to continue to grow the game, and that was critical.”
Martin refuted claims that Seven had publicly trashed CA and said that the network is looking to unprecedented success following a conversation with legendary broadcaster Bruce McAvaney.
“We haven’t trashed cricket. We’ve had our issues with Cricket Australia, and we’ve reset,” he said.
“There were challenging times, there’s no doubt about it, but our love for the sport and love for cricket (helped us get past it). Our strategy was to build a suite of Australia‘s premier sports across 52 weeks of the year.
“That’s in the past. Credit to Nick and our team because we actually realised that we’re the right fit and this is a great game.
“I just had a wonderful call with Bruce McAvaney who believes we’re on the cusp of a golden era of cricket and that we’re heading towards ‘the Invincibles’.
“They were challenging times, but we’ve become stronger because of it.”
Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley confirmed they’d spent millions of dollars in legal costs last year but described the new deal as a “great reset to the relationship” after what was said last year.
“I think I’ve said previously that some of those comments were disappointing. But we’ve moved on beyond that,” he said.
“Today draws an end to all of that and we’re moving forward. We’ve reached a relationship and all of those legal proceedings have been put to bed.”