Foxtel ‘eyes calendar changes’ as part of revised Supercars deal

Australian pay-television operator Foxtel is said to be keen to sign a long-term extension to its rights deal for the Supercars Championship by the end of the month, with an agreement that would look to realign the domestic motor-racing series’ calendar.

Foxtel is looking to sign a revised deal for the Covid-19 affected 2020 season, along with a reduced long-term agreement that could move the season to later in the year, granting it a second major summer property on top of cricket, according to sources cited by the Australian Financial Review newspaper.

Supercars chief executive Sean Seamer said: “Our primary focus has been on the scheduling of events this year to ensure that they work for as many of our partners as possible given the circumstances we are all in.

“Moving forward, we will maintain a high degree of flexibility in our scheduling to maximise exposure for the sport to deliver to new and existing fans. If tailoring our race schedule, Eseries or reality programming is required to achieve that, then we are prepared to do so.”

In March, Supercars suspended talks over a new broadcast rights deal as it sought to focus on getting back on the track amid the ongoing effects of the pandemic. Supercars held its first round of the 2020 season in Adelaide on February 20-23, but the campaign has since been suspended.

Supercars’ current domestic rights agreements with commercial free-to-air broadcaster Ten and Foxtel are due to expire at the end of the year.

In 2013, the series struck six-year rights deals with Ten, Foxtel and Fox Sports covering the 2015 to 2020 seasons. The contracts were worth a total of A$241m (€145.9m/$164.3m) and represented a record for the series.

The AFR added that while Ten is believed to be ready to end its association with Supercars, Foxtel is working to ensure it remains part of a new deal. Ten’s fellow commercial broadcaster Seven, which last broadcast the series from 2007 to 2014, is also understood to be interested in returning.

Over the past month, Foxtel has signed revised rights agreements with the Australian Football League, Rugby Australia and the National Rugby League.

Supercars organisers have targeted a resumption on the weekend of June 27-28 at Sydney Motorsport Park, with a revised 2020 calendar currently being negotiated.