Supercars ‘close’ to new domestic media-rights deals

Australian motor-racing series Supercars is close to new domestic media-rights agreements with pay-television broadcaster Foxtel and free-to-air broadcaster Seven for 2021 onwards.

Supercars rights are currently held by Foxtel and free-to-air broadcaster Ten in six-year deals from 2015 to 2020. The deals are worth a combined A$241m ($215m/€156m), comprised of A$196m in cash and A$45m in promotional ‘contra’.

Foxtel is negotiating a deal of three or four years’ duration, according to Australian motorsport website Auto Action. Last month, it was reported that Foxtel was seeking to renegotiate the final year of its existing deal due to the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the season. Foxtel was also said to be seeking an extension and adjustments to the Supercars calendar in future seasons.

Supercars was suspended due to the pandemic after its first round in February. It returned at the end of June, but the comeback has been complicated by renewed outbreaks of Covid-19 which threaten the remaining races this season

It is reported that Seven is negotiating for more live rights than Ten has in the current deal. Seven is expected to show live coverage of at least one race per round, plus highlights.

James Warburton, the current CEO of Seven, was the chief executive of Supercars when the current media-rights deals were struck. Seven was the free-to-air rights-holder of the series before Ten, in deals spanning 2007 to 2014.

Auto Action said the new deals, which are still being finalised, are worth “significantly less” annually than the current deals.

Supercars has reportedly been talking to broadcasters about a new domestic deal since last year and is said to have rejected offers last November from Foxtel and Seven. Talks were halted in March due to the pandemic.

Supercars’ owner, Australian private equity firm Archer Capital, is said to be waiting on the media-rights deals to be completed before proceeding with a long-awaited plan to sell its 65-per-cent stake in the business. It has been suggested that Archer Capital is expected to sell at a heavy discount on the A$134m it paid for the series in 2012. The main contender to buy the series is a consortium of team owners. The teams already own 35 per cent of the series.

Supercars last month renewed a media-rights agreement with pay-television broadcaster Sky New Zealand for five years, from 2021 to 2025.