The Ten Network has decided to drop out as a Melbourne Cup broadcaster after Tabcorp signed a deal with the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) to take control of all rights, including broadcasting, a couple of weeks ago.
The two remaining bidders are Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment. Tabcorp will have to sublicense the broadcasting rights to one of these networks, as it is obliged to do so under Australia’s anti-siphoning legislation.
Tabcorp Wants a Broadcaster with Higher Ratings
Ten has controlled the broadcasting rights of the Melbourne Cup Carnival since 2019. It took over from Seven in a five-year deal that was said to be worth $100 million.
However, the network decided it won’t be bidding for the broadcasting licence this time around, citing Tabcorp’s involvement in gambling as the reason. The new rights-holder is the first wagering company that controls all things broadcasting-related, from free-to-air television to digital channels and paid TV.
Ten claimed they said “No” to Tabcorp and VRC’s proposal to continue with the current agreement beyond this year’s cup. The network said that it became evident during the negotiations process that the Melbourne Cup would be a “wagering-focused product” from now on.
According to Ten, the move towards a more betting-oriented product would also mean “commercial constraints” where advertisers would be uncertain whether they want to sponsor such an event.
Industry sources tell a different story. They say Ten was replaced because Tabcorp was looking for a network that had higher ratings.
One thing that could be a problem for Tabcorp, though, is the reported reluctance of sponsors to advertise their products and services during a cup they fear might be dominated by wagering ads.
Tabcorp Must Sub-License Broadcasting Rights
After Ten pulled out of the bidding race, Tabcorp will have to choose between Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment. The two broadcasters are said to be finalizing their offers and will submit a bid soon, probably by the end of next week.
Sublicensing the TV rights to an Australian free-to-air broadcaster is something Tabcorp must do under the country’s anti-siphoning laws. The same applies to other events, such as the Commonwealth Games, the Australian F1 Grand Prix, AFL, the Olympics, Bathurst 1000 and other prominent tournaments and competitions.