Cricket Australia sold us out
As the dust settles on Cricket Australia’s historic broadcasting deal with Channel Seven and Foxtel, cricket fans are beginning to examine the consequences of change and considering how the deal will affect their viewing experience.
The deal totalled a mammoth $1.2 billion and the repercussions are far more severe than the abolition of the classic Wide World of Sports theme tune (which is, of course, exclusive to Nine). The Australian reports Seven has committed to annual payments of $75 million or $450m over 6 years, with Foxtel offering up $105m a season or $630m.
In a tweet yesterday afternoon, cricket.com.au detailed the workings of the new deal by providing a breakdown of broadcasting rights.
In short, the deal looks to be highly lucrative for Channel Seven, for the Fox Network and for Cricket Australia. It’s horrendous for fans and for the game of cricket in general.
In Trumpian style, Cricket Australia and Foxtel have built themselves a paywall and have left ordinary Australians on the other side. Cricket has been available on free to air television via the Nine Network for forty years in this country and a big part of the game’s brand has been that it’s a discipline for all – an important distinction to English culture where the sport is still somewhat tied to its aristocratic beginnings.
The socio-economic divide within the cricket community that will ensue this deal could well be astronomical. Fox now holds exclusive broadcasting rights to T20 Internationals, One Day Internationals, One Day Cup, 16 BBL matches, Sheffield Shield Final, Alan Border Medal Night and several other tour matches.
For young Australians wanting to follow the sport year round, if your parents can’t afford to pay for a Foxtel subscription then heed Cricket Australia’s unpublished message, ‘we don’t want you, just your parent’s cash’.
Former Test player Ed Cowan tweeted it was a “massive opportunity to hear some new voices. Preferably under the age of 60, hopefully more diverse, and shock horror, may not have captained Australia.”
Indeed, a fresh commentary team would be a welcomed change. However, to those hardworking Australians that just can’t shell out for a pay TV subscription, not having to endure Warnie’s crass innuendos or Mark Nicholas’ smarmy praise won’t feel all that comforting.