Network 10 loses out as Seven, Nine pitch for Melbourne Cup rights

Network 10 has officially lost the rights to the Melbourne Cup, as Tabcorp and the Victorian Racing Club get ready to field pitches from Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment Co.

Sources close to the negotiations confirmed Network 10 was no longer a contender for the rights, with Seven and Nine, the publisher of this masthead, expected to pitch as early as next week. Tabcorp and the Victorian Racing Club are believed to have ruled Ten out due to its poor ratings compared with the two bigger broadcasters.

Tabcorp must sublicence the rights to the Melbourne Cup to a free-to-air broadcaster, in line with Australia’s anti-siphoning laws.

Tabcorp is looking to sublicence the Melbourne Cup broadcast rights.
Tabcorp is looking to sublicence the Melbourne Cup broadcast rights.Credit: Racing Photos

Ten dropping out of the race marks the end of the network’s five-year broadcast deal, which was secured with a record-breaking $100 million cash and contra deal.

Tabcorp secured control of the broadcast rights last month and has been entertaining bids from the major networks to sublicence the free-to-air rights.

However, Tabcorp’s intention to be involved in production has caused hesitation among network executives at Seven, according to sources close to the deal.

A source, close to the matter who declined to be identified, also suggested Seven would plan on airing races from around the country on Melbourne Cup day, which could see the traditional uninterrupted broadcast challenged.

As the incumbent, Ten had first refusal on the rights and the network on Thursday said it had declined to pursue a broadcast rights for the Melbourne Cup.


“Throughout the course of the current negotiations, it became clear that the nature of the agreement between Tabcorp and the VRC would require a move towards a core racing and wagering-focused broadcast product,” it said.

“Given this likely change in focus, combined with commercial constraints of the future agreement, Network 10 considered the preferences of its viewers and advertisers, and politely declined to move forward with the process.”

Network 10 remains the Melbourne Cup rights holder for 2023.

More to come.

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