Ash Barty at centre of $500 million bombshell after Australian Open

Ash Barty, pictured here with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after winning the 2022 Australian Open.
Ash Barty shows off the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after winning the 2022 Australian Open. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Ash Barty's Australian Open triumph is reportedly set to cost Channel Nine up to $500 million if they want to renew their broadcast deal with Tennis Australia.

Barty became the first Australian in 44 years to win their home grand slam last month, and her run to the title at Melbourne Park was a ratings winner for Channel Nine.

Her triumph over Danielle Collins was the most-watched women's final in history at the Australian Open, with a peak audience of 4.2 million.

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That marked the biggest audience to watch a women's final in Australia since the TV ratings system was introduced in 1999.

Along with Rafa Nadal's incredible comeback victory to claim his 21st major and Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis teaming up to win the doubles title, Channel Nine struck ratings gold.

But according to The Australian, the ratings bonanza could cost the network some massive cash the next time they head to the negotiating table with Tennis Australia.

The current deal (which extends to 2024) is worth $300 million - $60 million per year across five years.

But columnist Nick Tabakoff reported on Monday that there are 'whispers' that TA will be seeking a deal worth up to $400m when it begins negotiations for the next broadcasting deal.

Networks wanting to snare the TV rights for the Australian Open could reportedly be forced to cough up as much as $500 million.

Channel Seven recently expressed interest in regaining the rights from Channel Nine after the networks switched tennis and cricket coverage in 2018.

Channel Seven made a bombshell move to pry the cricket coverage away from Nine, who in turn secured the rights to the tennis.

However Seven bosses have publicly expressed their disdain at working with Cricket Australia, with CEO James Warburton labelling them “the most incompetent administration I’ve ever worked with”.

If Seven and Nine enter a bidding war once again, Tennis Australia are certainly sitting pretty.

Ash Barty, pictured here after beating Danielle Collins in the final to win the Australian Open.
Ash Barty beat Danielle Collins in the final to win the Australian Open. (Photo by Bai Xuefei/Xinhua via Getty Images) (Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images)

Ash Barty triumph a huge boost for Tennis Australia

TA boss Craig Tiley revealed last month that the 2022 Aus Open would still lose money due to a government-enforced cap on crowds, but predicted Barty's win would help them emerge from the pandemic with no debt.

After emptying its cash reserves of $80 million and taking out a $40 million loan to stage the 2021 event, TA had been hopeful that this year's edition would help replenish its coffers.

"We were restricted this year to 50 per cent (crowd capacity) for most of the event," Tiley told AAP.

"We're now at 80 per cent but still it's pretty late - but we'll take anything.

"I think we'll still lose money this year but our recovery's started and when we get to 2023 we'll bounce back real fast and we'll put ourselves back in a very positive position."

And Barty's drought-breaking victory is central to TA's recovery mission.

"We put a lot of infrastructure over the last years in building the product and we've enjoyed during Covid an exponential increase in (playing) participation," Tiley said.

"That's not our survey - that's the government's survey - so it's comparative to everything. So that's been great.

"But now we've got the marketing vehicle with Ash's success and we can match that with the infrastructure we have in place and we'll see really a strong growth in our sport and ongoing growth in it.

"It's a beautiful sport to play - we've been saying it for boys and girls and especially for little girls who want to be like Ash. So we're so proud of her and this will really accelerate us into another level of participation."

with AAP

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