Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Cricket media rights fetch new record prices

The game of cricket might be viewed by many as a strange minority-interest sport, though this recent article in The Guardian suggests that mass popularity and commercial value are far from synonymous. This article reports on BSkyB's successful retention of the right to televise live all England's home Test matches as part of a £300m deal. The four-year deal, struck by BSkyB and Channel Five, nets the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) £100m more for the sale of their media rights than the ECB notched up for the previous four-year period.

A side-effect of the successful BSkyB bid is that it means that no live games will be shown on free-to-air TV "until at least 2013" following the BBC's failure to make any formal bid. The BBC has been criticised for getting its priorities wrong, paying to win back the live TV rights to Formula One motor racing even though the level of participation in motor racing is far lower than it is for cricket.

The ECB had divided its intangible assets into 35 separate media rights packages, justifying their decision to do so in terms of scheduling and cost issues. The BBC has persistently objected to the fact that cricket is not a "listed event" to which terrestrial broadcasters must be allowed access.

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