Financial analysts UBS have told the Nine Network that due to $30-40 million yearly losses they should consider dropping their cricket coverage if Cricket Australia can't offer a better broadcast deal.
The current broadcast deal is valued at $500 million over five years and is due to expire in 2018. The Nine Network and Cricket Australia are currently in negotiations for a new contract until 2023, but in a note from UBS to its clients they have suggested that Nine should be looking for something better.
"We think it would seem logical for Nine to enter negotiations with the following mindset: i) more cricket content at no additional cost, or ii) to step away from the cricket contract."
It is expected that if Nine were able to negotiate additional content it would come in the form of the Big Bash competition, the rights of which are currently held by Network Ten. However, ASW has been able to obtain documents from the negotiating table that have highlighted additional suggestions from the Nine Network as to how they could potentially boost the cricket viewership.
If one or a combination of these demands aren't met, it's possible that the Nine Network will walk away from the cricket coverage altogether.
"It would be a terrible shame if that were to happen," said former Australian captain and current Channel Nine commentator Mark Taylor.
"It would be the end of a long partnership that's been a part of the Australian television landscape for years and an Australian summer without cricket on Nine wouldn't feel like an Australian summer at all.
"Plus, I'll be fucked if I'm watching Here Come The Habibs."
Cricket Australia are confident that they will be able to secure a buyer for their international fixtures, with broadcasting manager Ben Amarfio declaring that live sport, such as the summer cricket fixtures, are a "premium asset".