Thursday, May 24, 2007


Cricket: Are The Billions Slipping Away?


Anyone keeping abreast of cricket news over the last 18 months would have been well aware of the stoush between the BCCI and the ICC pertaining to the magnitude of proceeds from the sale of their respective TV rights.

In a scenario that nobody with any influence wanted to envision when the bidding wars were in full swing, India were knocked out of the World Cup and the Indian government decided it was in the national interest for the every Indian to watch international cricket live on TV.

Suffice to say, the first event resulted in enormous losses for the ICC's encumbent broadcaster and the second event is likely to do so for the BCCI's TV men - unless their frantic lobbying (and.. err.. "incentives" offered to various people in power) is successful in repealing the new legislation.

Billion dollar contracts, as agreed on between the ICC and ESPN-Star Sports, take a while to write and finalise - don't forget the money that lawyers make in this whole process. As is the normal course of events, the ICC announced, with great haste, the mind-boggling sums the game was going to generate over the next eight years, before the ink was applied to the dotted lines.

Now, speculation (link courtesy of Kate Bower, via email) has it that ESPN-Star is doing all in its power to weasel out of signing the contract, because of the dilution of rights in the powerful Indian market brought about by the Indian government's new legislation.

Indeed, why wouldn't they try their damndest. Exclusivity is probably the greatest carrot dangled in front of bidders during the tender process. With one foul swoop the Indian government has decided that "exclusivity" as a commercial commodity has no place in cricketing economics. A billion dollars is a lot to pay for something you can't even have all to yourself.

It is, after all, mere speculation at this stage. The Indian government is well known for performing perfect-10 back flips in the event that the economics of its own ministers are significantly improved. The demerits of the Indian government's legislation not withstanding, is this what was required to bring cricket administrators out of their greed and green-backed stupor?

I did say something about cricket going to the dogs during Malcolm Speed's tenure, didn't I? Either way, lets wait and see what happens.


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