Supercars Championship suspends TV rights negotiations

Australian motor-racing series the Supercars Championship has suspended talks over a new broadcast rights deal as it seeks to focus on getting back on the track amid the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Supercars held its first round of the 2020 season in Adelaide on February 20-23, but the campaign has since been suspended. Organisers are targeting a resumption by September with a view to retaining the full 14-event calendar.

Supercars’ current domestic rights agreements with commercial free-to-air broadcaster Ten and pay-television operator 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 (€134.8m/$148m) and represented a record for the series.

On the suspension of the media rights negotiations, Supercars chief executive Sean Seamer told Fox Sports’ The Loud Pedal podcast: “The priority is to get the championship back up and running. Once we have a clear line of sight on that, then we’ll have a conversation about the TV rights.

“Obviously, if we do go into next year, there may be some implications there. But our number one priority is getting the product back for our existing TV partners.”

It was reported at the start of last month that Supercars was in talks with Ten and Foxtel over a new deal, with free-to-air commercial broadcaster Seven also said to be interested.

With racing suspended, Supercars has announced live rights deals for its new All Stars Eseries esports championship with Ten’s OTT streaming service Ten Play and pay-television broadcaster Sky New Zealand.

Fox Sports and its OTT platform Kayo had already been confirmed to broadcast the 10-week series beginning April 8. Kayo and Ten Play will offer full races on demand after each event.

The Eseries, featuring all 25 Supercars Championship drivers, will also be streamed internationally on Supercars’ Twitch channel as well as the Facebook pages of both the series and its teams.

Nathan Prendergast, Supercars’ general manager of television and content, said: “To bring fans more insights, we will have drivers chatting mid-race and interacting with the broadcast, like the Supercars Championship.

“We’ll be using webcams throughout the series, so fans watching at home can see their drivers mid-race.”

The opening round will feature races at Phillip Island and Monza, with the full Eseries calendar to be released in due course.