Published 12th November 2018 on News.com.au
Channel 10 is reportedly going to great lengths to ensure TV icon Bruce McAvaney doesn’t draw any eyeballs away from its Melbourne Cup coverage in 2019 and beyond.
McAvaney, a staple of Channel 7’s racing coverage and long-time host of the race that stops the nation, waved goodbye to the Cup after this year’s broadcast.
Channel 10 has secured the TV rights to the race for five years, starting next year, and it wants to make sure nobody goes searching elsewhere to get their McAvaney fix on the first Tuesday of November.
While Seven has released its grip on the Melbourne Cup, Racing.com will share the rights with Channel 10 next year after reaching an agreement with the broadcaster that will allow it to share its coverage via digital streaming, Foxtel and free-to-air.
Racing.com is a partnership between Channel 7 and Racing Victoria and McAvaney headed the channel’s coverage of the Adelaide Cup this year. The 65-year-old indicated he is keen to continue his involvement in the South Australian capital but Ten is reportedly determined to make sure his influence doesn’t shift into Melbourne during Cup carnival time.
According to 3AW and decidertv.com, to make sure people tune into Channel 10, the network has reportedly included a legal clause in its agreement with Racing.com that prevents McAvaney, and fellow presenter Hamish McLachlan, from hosting the channel’s coverage of the Melbourne Cup.
According to the report, the unusual action is seen as a sign Ten is nervous punters could be tempted to tune into rival coverage if McAvaney is at the helm. The drastic move is a way of safeguarding its $100 million, five-year investment in the race meeting, which goes over four days every year.
Speaking before this year’s Melbourne Cup, won by British raider Cross Counter, McAvaney reflected on what it would mean for his long association with the famous race to come to an end.
“There will be a little bit of sadness at the end of the day,” McAvaney told 3AW. “I’m staying with Seven until I retire and I think I’m getting pretty close to that.
“This will be the last time I work on a Melbourne Cup. It’s a little bit irrelevant in my mind right now, but I’m sure in the months to come and this time next year, I’ll be climbing a wall somewhere and wishing I was front and centre, but I’ve had a pretty good run I reckon.”
Channel 7 will still have the rights to Sydney’s Autumn Carnival and big spring races like the Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and The Everest.
McAvaney covers plenty of sports for Channel 7 like the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and AFL, but his true love will always be horse racing.
“That’s where it started, that’s the beginning, that’s where it really started burning as a kid and when I retire, whenever that may be in the future, I’ll follow a lot of sports but the sport I’ll follow most closely will be horse racing,” McAvaney told RSN radio last year..
“The connect was with my parents and also with (TV presenter and race caller) Bill Collins … we would hear Bill’s calls and I just got turned on.
“My parents and Bill, they’re the three people who really shaped me as a kid in terms of my love for racing.”