Fox Sports chief to lead new combined Australian entity

Patrick Delany, chief executive of Australian pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports, has been appointed as the new chief executive of pay-television operator Foxtel, which is soon to merge with his current employer.

Delany (pictured), who has led Fox Sports since 2011, has seen off competition from current Foxtel chief executive Peter Tonagh to land the role at the future combined entity.

In August, telco Telstra and media group News Corp announced their intention to merge Foxtel and Fox Sports into a new company, with a view to launching an initial public offering.

Telstra and News Corp confirmed the plans in a bid to create an entity that is better positioned to deliver premium sports as well as homegrown, original and international entertainment in what they described as a “rapidly evolving and competitive” marketplace.

Under the deal, which is set to be concluded in the first half of 2018, News Corp will have 65 per cent shareholding in the new company and Telstra will have 35 per cent. News Corp currently owns 100 per cent of Fox Sports, while Telstra has 80 per cent of the equity in Foxtel but acts as a 50 per cent owner. 

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper notes the appointment signals an even more aggressive move into sports rights by News Corp. Foxtel currently doesn’t hold significant cricket or tennis rights. The rights to cricket in Australia, including Tests and one-day internationals held by Nine and Twenty20 league the Big Bash by fellow commercial broadcaster Ten, expired this month. Commercial broadcaster Seven’s contract with Tennis Australia ends after the 2019 Australian Open.

“I'm a change agent… and I think this is an exciting moment,” Delany told the Australian Financial Review website. “We've got an exciting challenge and what we can do here is be innovative. The assets we have are unbelievably good and what we have to do is reposition the business to keep the customers we have and work to convince the rest of Australia that we are worth it for them. So it is an exciting time and we are at a real inflection point.”

Former Foxtel and Australian Football League executive Peter Campbell will become chief operating officer of Fox Sports.