Channel 9 loses Australian cricket TV rights after 40 years

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Sydney:  Channel Nine, which brought cricket to Australian television viewers for 40 years and influenced the way the sport is covered around the world, has lost a billion dollar bidding duel for broadcasting rights to Australia’s national game.

Cricket Australia announced Friday it had concluded a new rights deal with free-to-air broadcaster Channel Seven and its pay TV partner Foxtel reportedly worth $1 billion over six years.

For four decades Nine’s cricket coverage had been an omnipresent feature of the Australian summer, bringing test, one-day matches and Twenty20 internationals into living rooms across the nation. Its style of using a large stable of high profile former players to provide idiosyncratic commentary in a manner which departed from cricket’s former, stuffy manner won it fans, and critics, around the world.

It became the template for television coverage and commentary in almost every other nation where cricket is played. Headed for more than three decades by former Australian captain Richie Benaud, with regular commentators such as test greats Tony Greig, Bill Lawrie, Ian Chappell and, more recently Shane Warne, Nine provided an enormous resource of expert analysis based on experience.

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