Nine Radio cancels syndication deal with Crocmedia

Late on Friday, Nine Radio quietly pulled the pin on a syndication deal with Crocmedia that had been set up under the previous management, Macquarie Media, citing the disruption caused by COVID-19 as the catalyst.

In a memo to staff, CEO, Tom Malone (pictured) wrote, “I wanted to let you know that we have been able to reach agreement to cease our current Syndication deal with Crocmedia.” 

Apart from Crocmedia supplying sports content to Macquarie, the deal also gave Crocmedia the right to distribute Macquarie’s other content and sell advertising into syndicated programs, despite Macquarie Radio having its own syndication arm.

In his memo, Mr Malone made it clear there were other reasons besides COVID-19 that had prompted Nine to unravel the deal: “Doing this is important as it gives us greater control over the distribution and commercialisation of our content.” 

Nine, of course, has a much larger cross-platform sales department than Macquarie had, which can sell newspapers, radio and television together on a national basis.

Mr Malone went on to say, “Crocmedia will continue to be an important partner of ours across our suite of sports rights.”

Through its multi-media assets, Nine also has much stronger bargaining power with some sports – NRL, for example – than other media outlets. It will be interesting to see who will acquire the broadcast/syndication rights to various sports going forward, as the NRL resumes its competition after getting approval from various governments to restart games under strict conditions.

“Ultimately we have a strong business,” Mr Malone told staff, “and decisions like this will help us deal with the many challenges ahead as we prepare for the post-COVID world.”

The move will be well received by syndication clients, who were not impressed when Croc Media put the prices up after the previous deal was done.

This week, Nine Entertainment CEO Hugh Marks told a Macquarie Bank conference that Nine would be looking to save another $50m over the next three years, bringing cost savings to about $290m by the end of the 2021 financial year. It is not known how much of these savings would come from the company’s rado and newspaper divisions, and how much from television.

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