Nine secures Tour Down Under broadcast rights from SBS

The Santos Tour Down Under has a new Australian free-to-air broadcast partner, the Nine Network. There were murmurs a couple of weeks ago when SBS staffed tweeted that they were likely to lose the broadcast rights to the Tour Down Under (TDU) to Channel Nine from next year.

Under the new broadcast agreement Nine will be home of TDU coverage for the next three years, starting in 2012. It has also been confirmed that Nine’s coverage will feature the voices of cycling Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, who have previously featured in SBS’ TDU coverage and Tour de France coverage. Nine’s coverage will be hosted by Wide World of Sports’ Andrew Voss.

The 2012 event will see Nine’s Wide World of Sports broadcast the final weekend of the TDU live on Nine as well as streaming the coverage on the Wide World of Sports website (NineMSN). SBS over recent years has led the way along with Network Ten by streaming their respective sports coverage online, such as the recent UCI World Road Cycling Championships on the Cycling Central website and Network Ten, which over the weekend streamed Australian Open Golf and Formula One coverage on its website and smartphone apps.

The remainder of the event will be shown in the form of a dedicated highlights package each evening. The press release from TDU organisers does not make clear what time the nightly highlights will air, for how long or whether they will be on the primary channel or a secondary channel such as GEM.

Hitaf Rasheed, General Manager Events South Australia, said:

“We’re excited about the new partnership with the Nine Network, who have a proven track record in the coverage of major sporting events and are the official broadcasters of the London 2012 Olympic Games,”

Steve Crawley, Head of Sport for the Nine Network, said:

“Australia has a great history of success in Olympic cycling and in an Olympic year this event will showcase some of the best Australian and international cycling talent leading into London 2012.”

The poaching of the rights by Channel Nine, from arguably the home of cycling in SBS, is no doubt a play by Nine to build momentum towards its London 2012 Olympic coverage, for which it is the exclusive FTA broadcaster. Of course road and track cycling are events at the Olympics.

It is often said that FTA networks use the broadcasting of sports to give their channels a halo effect, as viewers are exposed to other programs whilst watching a sporting broadcast and therefore this will result in viewers watching other programs on the network and thereby increase a network’s viewer share. Think of the boost that Seven receives in southern states when its Sunday news bulletin has an AFL match or V8 Supercars race as a lead-in.

It seems Nine will use its newly acquired TDU coverage rights to create a halo effect for its Olympic coverage. Nine may also use the broadcast to deliver advertising opportunities to its Olympic broadcast partners and sponsors in the lead up to its Olympic broadcast later in 2012. It is also a timely rights pickup given the increased interest in cycling following Cadel Evans’ maiden victory at this year’s Tour de France.

SBS will be disappointed at the loss of another one of its key offerings to Nine (Top Gear was poached by Nine) but it still retains rights to the holy grail of cycling, the Tour de France. SBS TV Senior Sports Producer Stuart Randall said on Twitter that SBS will provide as much TDU coverage as permitted as a non-rights holder.

It is also worth mentioning that apart from not covering the TDU next year that it will also be the first time since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, that SBS is not the secondary broadcaster of a Summer Olympics, after filling that role in 2004 & 2008, with Seven as the primary broadcaster and also producing the SBS coverage.

The 2012 Santos Tour Down Under will be held in South Australia from 15-22 January. At this stage there is only one international cricket fixture which will clash with the TDU and that is the 3rd Vodafone Test Match between Australia v India which is scheduled to be played from 13-17 January. This match will be played in Perth, meaning Nine’s broadcast will run into the evening on the east coast due to the time difference. This may provide Nine the perfect opportunity to run the TDU daily highlights package for the first two days of the TDU following the conclusion of its cricket commitments.

Lets hope this new deal grows awareness of the TDU in Australia, which is the first stop on the UCI’s Pro Cycling World Tour.


Santos Tour Down Under

SBS Cycling Central 

Cricket Australia

@miketomalaris - Twitter

@SJR1978 - Twitter


  1. after the presidents cup being cut short at the 18th hole day 1, just to run Eddie’s show hotseat, I wonder what the coverage of the TDU will be like “more ads” I’d say.

  2. 9 stuffed up the rugby world cup and will do the same for the TdU. Am hoping they dont call up Ray Hadley to commentate like they did for the RWC semi final against NZ

    They should stick to rugby league and cricket.

  3. The nine network has released broadcast times recently. As feared, the daily highlights are after every crap show possible….after 11.00pm !! This could end up being a disaster. All we need now is Eddie and those no idea commentators, plus ads during the final sprints to kill the TDU.

  4. Disaster for cycling fans. After the exceptional TDU coverage by SBS, apart from the scheduled live stages on Nine, we will be subject to highlight coverage after 11pm. Unless it is the TDF, unlikely that cyclists will be awake at this time, especially if the coverage is to be full of ADS!!!!
    We have a world class cycling event in Australia and coverage is being relegated to the wee hours. Nine had an opportunity to showcase this event…why oh why did they even secure the rights…just to slot it out of prime watching time???? If they didn’t think their audience was interested enough to accept cycling at a reasonable time…should have let SBS carry on with the professional coverage!!!

  5. Shame on the Tour Down Under. They had a broadcaster with a track record of respect for, and commitment to cycling, but they went for the money instead. Now we live in a country where we get live TdF but late night highlights only of our national race–broadcast later than even the TdF coverage begins!

    Why couldn’t 9 pit it live on one of their other digital channels like Go? I guess because it would take the audience from the cricket. So we end up highlights after 11pm. How is that good for cycling? Nice one TDU!

  6. watched race last night live streamed on msnnine, quality not that good. cant believe SBS not doing TDU coverage, shame Turter, shame!

  7. Like everything 9 does they will stuff it and already have done that by night showing last night {15th}

  8. What a joke the television broadcast by channel nine is, Shame on Mike Turtur for accepting channel nine coverage, they have already wrecked it for the TV audience by very late night highlights of our National Road Race that is an INTERNATIONAL SPORT a chance to see our very own WORLD CLASS riders in action, what do we get a second rate coverage by channel nine, a second rate tv station

  9. Really sad situation. Channel 9 has the capacity by its indifferent coverage to kill the event for Adelaide; is Eddie running for Lord Mayor of Melbourne? C–p station, c–p programs, worse presenters. Occasionally good video (cricket) if you turn their sound off and listen to the ABC – time shift synchronisation is an issue. Fortunately, I can record and kill the ads and the inane comments of a mob of nobodies and watch it with my Weetbix in the morning. Agree with Sheila – second rate station, second rate coverage….[removed by site moderator]…next question. Did Channel 9 kill football? Betcha!

  10. I totally agree with Sheila. We have a great UCI event, we now have our own cycling team and Mike Turtur blows it by giving the broadcast rights to such a crap network as Nine. I certainly won’t be staying up till late to catch it live. I expect those sort of viewing times for the Tour De France but not for our own Tour. And this year we have Greenedge. Surely that should have been given prime viewing time. Shame on Nine for wrecking it for us cycling fans.

  11. I can only agree with the the other comments above. How dare 9 be so rotten greedy to take the cycling away from SBS. The media statement says it is aiming to have more people watch other shows. Fat chance. The rubbish that is repeated and repeated is not worth watching waiting for cycling to start. Bloody typical of 9. Greedy then ruining it. Greedy male dominated rubbish leave it to SBS. You can’t build an audience but you sure can ruin one. You had better not take over the Tour de France. No one will watch it. Such a destroying awful TV channel. Look what you have done to Top Gear and Big Bang.

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