Channel Nine left with no summer sport after pulling out of tennis talks

Nine Network lost cricket rights to Seven and Fox Sports earlier this year

Channel Nine is facing a summer without sport after the free-to-air network pulled out of negotiations with Seven West Media over broadcast rights for the Australian Open tennis.

A spokesperson for the Nine Network confirmed to Guardian Australia it had ended negotiations over the rights currently held by Seven, after the Nine Entertainment Co chief executive, Hugh Marks, said a fair offer was rejected by Seven.

The collapse in negotiations means Nine’s longstanding relationship with summer sport is over, having lost cricket rights to Seven and Fox Sports earlier this year.

It is not yet clear how Seven will attempt to shoehorn in both tennis and cricket coverage this summer. Coverage of the build-up to the Australian Open, which starts mid-January, begins in December, while Australia’s cricketers will host tourists India throughout December and into January.

“We haven’t been able to get to an agreement,” the Nine Entertainment Co chief executive, Hugh Marks, told Fairfax Media.

According to Fairfax, Nine’s offer represented a $10m premium on Seven’s current deal with Tennis Australia, which is worth about $40m a year.

Having pulled out of the tennis deal, Nine will invest in more local programming and take the opportunity to spend revenue on areas other than sport.

“We’ve decided that we are going to take the opportunity to commission some additional local programming, which is both an investment in the schedule for next year plus the overall schedule for the future, because we get to try a number of things which may or may not succeed,” Marks told Fairfax Media.

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