Will cricket cash in on broadcast rights?

Sam Mills Roar Rookie

By Sam Mills, Sam Mills is a Roar Rookie

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    Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has stood firm in an ongoing pay dispute with Australia's cricketers. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

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    Last Wednesday night there was a fantastic cricket match on at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

    You may or may not have been watching. You may have not even known it was on. It was however, the Australian domestic 50 over cup final, or the Ryobi Cup as it is officially known.

    The game was a thriller between Victoria and Queensland. The underdog Bulls showed the same fighting spirit that the Brisbane Heat had in the Big Bash, taking home the cup by the barest of margins, a solitary run.

    Fox Sports was the host broadcaster for this match and the tournament in general. This left many fans to resort to online streams or Twitter to find out the latest scores as there was also no radio coverage. But with cricket’s broadcast deal up for grabs in the next few months, how long will it remain like this?

    This set of broadcast negotiations is set to be the most interesting since Kerry Packer and Channel 9 came up with World Series Cricket, with all of the major commercial networks all in contention.

    The last TV deal was seven years ago. A lot has changed since then. Channel 9 are no-longer the powerhouse network with Seven overtaking them. Ten are still the poorer cousin, however they are prepared to throw everything at Cricket Australia to win the rights. Also in their sights is the Australian Open.

    With the new era of digital multi-channels, fans should expect more cricket on the television. Should Channel 10 get the nod, tragics would hope that the Ryobi Cup would also make the move across and screen on ONE.

    How about the Sheffield Shield as well? I’m sure many would rather watch the Shield than weekday afternoon TV shows, which normally consist of imported American content.

    Cricket Australia have done their best to try and please fans by running online streams of Shield matches from their website in recent seasons, but it’s still not the same. A daily highlights show on ONE would warm the hearts of every cricket fan in this country. It would also rate better than ‘Pro Bull Riding’.

    What is almost a guarantee is that the Big Bash will be on free-to-air television. If Cricket Australia are serious about making this competition bigger it will happen. They will also need to combat the A-League, which is also making its free-to-air debut on Friday nights next season.

    Ratings on Fox also suggest that the Big Bash rights will be sold for a large amount due to the way the Big Bash is marketed; to a bigger audience which includes women and children.

    Due to the anti-siphoning list, international Test, one day and Twenty20 matches cannot be sold to Fox Sports, so there are no concerns. This is a different case in England, where the laws were reformed and Sky Sports now broadcasts all England matches.

    Not much will change then, apart from inside the commentary box.

    If Channel 9 do not regain the rights, it would be hard to see the winning network contracting experienced callers such as Bill Lawry, Richie Benaud and Ian Chappell. Should Channel 7 win, would some of their AFL commentary team get involved?

    There are so many questions but unfortunately little or no answers. We’ll just have to wait and see.

    The possibility that for the first time in 33 years another network could be covering cricket is this country is a weird thought. No matter what happens, your summer in front of the TV will never be the same again.

    All we can hope for is that the competition between the networks will enhance the viewing of the armchair critic.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • Roar Guru

      March 3rd 2013 @ 9:23am
      TheGenuineTailender said | March 3rd 2013 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      I hope there is a change. Nine have abused their cricket coverage with their stupid plugs for the blocks and a deteriorating commentary team.

    • March 3rd 2013 @ 9:32am
      Matt F said | March 3rd 2013 @ 9:32am | ! Report

      TV networks are businesses not charities. They won’t show the Shield or Ryobi Cup because there is simply not enough interest in it. It may rate better than Pro Bull Riding but it would also cost a lot more to broadcast. ONE tried to survive on low-rating sport once before and it didn’t work out very well

    • March 3rd 2013 @ 9:56am
      The_Watcher said | March 3rd 2013 @ 9:56am | ! Report

      I really hope either Channel 7 or Channel 10 get the rights.
      Channel 9’s coverage has been truly appalling.
      They have showed 2 T20’s both delayed by an hour,
      That is practically a whole innings in that form.

      Also as stated their commentary team is abysmal,
      Seeing “commentators” doing the “horsey-dance”
      was pretty much the end of it for me not even
      mentioning the awful KFC ads and constant promos.
      Having been watching the Indian tests they are far superior.

      • March 3rd 2013 @ 2:22pm
        The Gospel of Luke said | March 3rd 2013 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

        Agree would love to see someone else get the rights and a new and fresh commentary team come in. Guys like Kerry O’Keefe, Damien Fleming, Brett Geeves (basically the whole ABC team) are much better and interesting to listen to than most of the Channel 9 guys.

        The only ones I would consider keeping from 9 are Richie Benaud, Ian Chappel and maybe Mark Taylor.

    • March 3rd 2013 @ 7:57pm
      Willam said | March 3rd 2013 @ 7:57pm | ! Report

      Channel TEN should get hold of BBL as it will suit for ONE or even whole package but due to Nine in debt crisis and 7 TA rights and I will have to say TEN is the front runner for the media rights as long as they put in a decent bid around $500mil

    • March 3rd 2013 @ 9:26pm
      Steve said | March 3rd 2013 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

      Would love to see a shake-up to the way cricket (Test cricket in particular) is presented, but the commercial realities mean this is unlikely to be the case…whoever wins the free-to-air rights. CA will (quite correctly) try and squeeze every last dollar out of the broadcast rights deal and this means ads, promos and more ads. I don’t see the BBL making the transition to free-to-air.

    • March 4th 2013 @ 12:11am
      dynamitedave said | March 4th 2013 @ 12:11am | ! Report

      as long as they screw the BCCI when it comes time to get the broadcast rights I will be happy.

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