Supercars sign new TV deal with Seven

IT MAY be the dawning of a new era for V8 Supercars, but the biggest change in nearly two decades hasn't attracted a better TV rights deal.

The V8s will stay with the Seven Network for another two years in an agreement that at best can be described as no worse than before.

There will be little change in how or when the series will be telecast by Seven, which will again split the coverage between its primary and digital 7Mate channels.

The renewal is at odds with the competition being opened up to new makes for the first time since 1994, ending the Ford/Holden duopoly that has been the sport's signature.

Under the Car Of The Future rules, the biggest technical update in a decade, the familiar Falcons and Commodores will be joined by Nissans and Mercedes-Benzes.

The addition of new brands has generated a lot of interest outside the sport and is expected to broaden the appeal of V8 racing, which has outlived the traditional Holden versus Ford rivalry in a rapidly changing car market that is eschewing Commodores and Falcons.

But the game-changing addition of four factory-backed Nissan Altimas and three privately funded Mercedes E-Class racers, which will race for the first time at the season-opening March 1-3 Adelaide 500, didn't arouse competitive interest among the three commercial free-to-air TV networks.

After months of negotiations that failed to secure a more lucrative five-year deal, much less price-hiking bidding between the networks, V8 Supercars agreed a two-year extension with Seven on similar terms.

While neither V8 Supercars nor Seven would reveal the value of the latest deal, sources close to both indicated it was worth $32 million a year, an increase of about $4 million annually on the previous six-year agreement.

Fairfax Media understands that the only rival offer was from Ten, which tabled a similar yearly fee for five years. V8 Supercars decided on the shorter-term renewal with Seven in the expectation that the market will improve in the meantime and also to move further away from the media rights renewal cycles of the AFL and NRL.

A large component of Seven's fee covers the cost of the V8 telecasts, which will again be produced by the sport's own television unit.

V8 Supercars chief executive David Malone, under fire from teams because the long delay held up finalisation of vital sponsorship deals, was adamant that the long wait was worth the result. ''We're very happy with the deal,'' Malone said. ''Securing free-to-air coverage on the leading network was our objective. It's a really good win.''

This story Supercars sign new TV deal with Seven first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.