Big rights fee boost expected for Australian V8 motor-racing series

The domestic rights for the Australian V8 Supercars motor-racing series are attracting interest from all major free-to-air broadcasters and pay-television, and the rights fees could more than double to A$60 million ($63 million/€48 million) per year, local newspaper the Sunday Telegraph reports.

An official for the series said one of the broadcasters it had talks with was commercial operator Channel Nine, which wanted to dovetail coverage of V8 with its coverage of the National Rugby League, Australia’s top rugby league competition. Rival commercial broadcaster the Seven Network is the current V8 rights-holder in a six-year deal, from 2007 to 2012, worth A$168 million, or A$28 million per year. The next deal will run from 2013 to 2017.

“Nine are definitely interested and we are talking to them,” the V8 official said. “All of the major free-to-air networks are interested, as is pay-television.

“Nine are interested [in V8 Supercars] because it is a good fit for them. The timing of our races works for them and especially in winter. Our races finish by 4pm, and that is when their coverage of the NRL starts. They could go straight from one to the other.”

Nine is in talks to extend its current rights deal for the NRL beyond the expiration of its existing deal at the end of this year.

V8 is considering selling individual races and events to different networks to increase rights fee revenues. “Everything is up for grabs,” the V8 official said. “We will consider any offers. We would look to sell all the rights, including digital, to just one network, or split up all the properties. It is all about getting the best deal.”

V8 Supercars chief executive David Malone said: “We are very encouraged with the interest in the market. It is early days, but we have started the conversations. We believe we have a high-value product and have a tremendous ratings record. We also have the product and brand.”