Bold new broadcast deal could spell the end of ODI cricket

Patrick Moran Roar Rookie

By Patrick Moran, Patrick Moran is a Roar Rookie

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    While the expansion of the Big Bash League and increased coverage of women’s cricket mean that mathematically the new broadcast deal sees more free-to-air cricket than ever before, that is nowhere near the complete story. It could even be described as an ‘alternative fact’.

    16 BBL games will be exclusively broadcast on Fox Sports, with the season expanded to 59 matches. While previously Network Ten broadcast 100 per cent of the tournament, Channel Seven will now broadcast 73 per cent of matches.

    The percentages, and not the total number of matches broadcast, tells the real story.

    Women’s cricket is the big winner, and Cricket Australia should be commended for their dedication. The problem is that the broadcast deal uses increased women’s coverage as a mechanism to put men’s limited overs internationals behind a pay-wall. CA can still claim a net increase in free-to-air cricket coverage, while putting men’s ODIs and international T20s on Fox Sports.

    The deal is a step forward for women’s cricket, and a step back for men’s. It is important not to jumble the two genders together in assessing the changes, as that paints a misleadingly positive picture.

    Despite the generation of significant revenue, the deal could spell the beginning of the end for ODI cricket, considered by many to hold the least relevance of the three formats.

    Only around a quarter of Australians have Foxtel, which leaves the rest unable to watch ODI cricket from the comfort of their lounge room. While Fox Sports are rumoured to be launching a streaming service, it is hardly likely to be free.

    The ODI format is already suffering from dwindling crowds, and a lack of TV exposure will only exacerbate this problem. In fact, only one of the last 50 ODIs in Australia (excluding World Cup matches) has had over 50,000 in attendance. That match happened to be the opening of Optus Stadium, and therefore attracted an unusually high attendance.

    Putting cricket behind a pay-wall is detrimental to the health of the game. Viewership and public interest will significantly decrease. England’s move from Channel 4 to Sky Sports surmises as much.

    While 1.92 million Sky Sports viewers watched England claim the 2009 Ashes, this figure was a small fraction of the 7.4 million peak viewership achieved by Channel 4 in the 2005 series.

    Despite the excitement at the fresh voices on next summer’s coverage, the broadcast deal is in many ways a backward step for Australian cricket. It is not only unjust to those unable to afford pay TV, but also detrimental to the development of some areas the sport.

    One can only hope that Friday 13th of April doesn’t prove to be a fatal day, on which CA signed off on the demise of the ODI game.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • April 15th 2018 @ 3:00pm
      Timmuh said | April 15th 2018 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

      It won’t be the end of ODI cricket, but it will be the end of visibility of the format in Australia. Games will still be played, with a third of the audience watching. Taking away visibility leads to inevitably a decline in interest. ODIs still rate fairly well despite a decline in viewers and a much bigger drop-off in attendances. Without visibility people won’t talk about the games (just like winter tours) and the team. The only format of internationals two-thirds of people will be able to watch is the one on mostly when they are at work or school. That just leaves the anti-cricket of the BBL.

      It is interesting that in the short formats, womens internationals are going to have more visibility than the mens. Other than netball, what other sports would that be true of?

    • April 15th 2018 @ 6:43pm
      Joffa the Boofhead said | April 15th 2018 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

      If ODI was getting say a million watching a match across the nation on Nine. Expect possibly sub 100,000 watching ODI on Fox Sports. What are they getting when Australia play overseas in an ODI, expect that.

      What I dont get about the logic is only 2 weeks ago they canned some overseas players. With this deal those same clowns get to keep their huge pay checks even though the audience is dropping off. James Sutherland is the rodent in the Australian cricketing larder.

    • April 16th 2018 @ 9:13am
      Tlux said | April 16th 2018 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      I hope this will bring a change in how ODI’s are run.

      At the moment, we bring out a team. Play 3 or 4 tests against them (15-20 days of cricket – 25 for an Ashes series) .Then we play 5 ODIs against them (another 5 days), throw in 3 T20Is and then wonder why nobody is interested any more after seeing the same 20-odd blokes play against each other for 25-30 days.

      Australian summer should work like this:
      – 3/5 ODIs v Team A in Oct/November – (Pick top performers from domestic 50 over comp in Aus team)
      – 3/4 Tests v Team B – Late Nov/early Dec
      – 3 ODIs v Team C – Mid-January
      – 3 T20Is v Team C – Early Feb – (Pick Aus team from best Big Bash players)

    • April 16th 2018 @ 11:06am
      Akkara said | April 16th 2018 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      This deal is clearly against the anti-siphoning laws of Australia. Based on the law, it is the specific right of the Australian public to have all 3 forms of cricket played by the elite Australian team, available on free to air, and precludes an exclusive agreement. 75% of the Australian public are affected by this.

      The Minister of Communication Mr Fifield, is responsible for ensuring the laws of the nation are upheld. If for what ever reason, he feel he cannot do so, he should resign.

      If you feel strongly about this, you should email him on Minister@communications.gov.au and let him know, as I have done.

      • April 16th 2018 @ 11:21am
        DaveJ said | April 16th 2018 @ 11:21am | ! Report

        You are quite right. Seven claims that it is compliant because it has bought the rights but is allowing Foxtel to exercise them. That is bullshit. It is a blindingly obvious case of collusion to subvert the purpose of the antisiphoning laws, which is to enable events that broadcasters would be interested in broadcasting be available to the wider public and not hidden behind a paywall. Seven obviously has “bought” the rights as part of a deal to let it show the Tests and some Big Bash matches. This means Foxtel was effectively part of the bidding from the get-go. The whole thing makes a mockery of CA punishing Smith and Warner for ball tampering- they have colluded with commercial interests to subvert legislation meant to serve the interests of cricket fans and have thereby cheated them. Talk about unethical behaviour! The Government needs to look at this seriously and the Opposition needs to hold their feet to the fire.

    • April 18th 2018 @ 12:15pm
      Doran Smith said | April 18th 2018 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

      T20 will be the most popular format in my opinion.

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