HomeAustralia and New ZealandMelbourne Cup secures new free-to-air broadcast partner

Melbourne Cup secures new free-to-air broadcast partner

Melbourne Cup secures new free-to-air broadcast partner

Australia’s most iconic horse racing spectacle, the Melbourne Cup, has found a new home on free-to-air television following an agreement between Nine Entertainment, the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) and the prominent gambling and entertainment conglomerate Tabcorp.

After nearly six months of negotiations, the trio has finalised a six-year contract – compliant with the federal government’s anti-siphoning laws – marking a significant milestone in sports broadcasting.

Commencing from 2024 and spanning until 2029, Nine will be the exclusive broadcaster for key events including the prestigious Lexus Melbourne Cup, Penfolds Victoria Derby, VRC Oaks Day, and TAB Champions Stakes Day. This comprehensive package encompasses audio-visual rights across various platforms including broadcast, streaming, mobile, digital and social media, ensuring widespread access to the action on both Channel Nine and its streaming platform 9Now.

Tabcorp, renowned for its ownership of the Sky Racing channels, will extend the reach of the Melbourne Cup Carnival across more than 60 countries through its diverse Sky platforms and proprietary TAB app. Additionally, Tabcorp secures exclusive wagering advertising rights with Nine, alongside the ability to sublicense broadcasts to other wagering providers.

This partnership involves the VRC overseeing production for racing coverage through VRC Media, in close collaboration with Tabcorp and Nine, ensuring a seamless and captivating viewing experience.

This agreement follows Tabcorp’s prior deal with VRC in 2023 for domestic rights to the Melbourne Cup, navigating the complexities of Australia’s anti-siphoning regulations. With the government extending the validity of this list until 2026, Tabcorp’s collaboration with Nine became imperative, necessitating sublicensing arrangements to comply with regulatory requirements.

Nine’s ascent as the new free-to-air broadcaster of the Melbourne Cup Carnival marks a transition from Channel Ten, whose five-year deal from 2019-23 was valued at A$100 million. The departure of Seven West Media and Ten’s withdrawal earlier in the bidding process further solidified Nine’s position as the preferred partner.

“Nine’s capability to showcase coverage of Melbourne Cup Carnival racing and events across the depth of their leading broadcast and streaming assets make for a compelling partnership outcome,” Steve Rosich, CEO of VRC, commented.

Adam Rytenskild, Rosich’s counterpart at Tabcorp Holdings, added, “Tabcorp’s partnership with the VRC and Nine is the most innovative in Australian sport and we can’t wait to bring our entire digital, broadcast and retail ecosystem together to grow and promote the Melbourne Cup Carnival together.

“This partnership builds on Tabcorp winning the 20-year Victorian exclusive wagering licence and will be a key pillar of our growth strategy. Together with our Brand and Customer transformation, this partnership gives us a terrific platform to grow in Victoria, throughout Australia and around the world as we beam the Cup to more than 60 different countries through Sky Racing.”

Despite recent declines in free-to-air television ratings, the Melbourne Cup Carnival remains a cornerstone of the Australian sporting calendar, generating substantial economic benefits. In 2022 alone, the event contributed A$422 million to Victoria’s economy, cementing its status as a premier sporting spectacle with unparalleled economic significance.

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