Global League yet to start, but losing millions
Cricket SA and SuperSport seem to have a significant difference of opinion over broadcast rights
The T20 Global League (T20GL) has yet to see the lights of day/night, but is already costing millions in losses.
The league, SA’s bid to join the made-for-TV T20 circus that has swept the world game and‚ not by accident‚ created a rich stream of revenue‚ is to be played in November and December.
"What successful competitions such as the IPL [Indian Premier League]‚ the Big Bash in Australia and Pakistan’s Super League have shown us is that cricket is no longer just a game — it is now big business‚" Cricket SA’s latest annual report says in what sounds like breathless expectation of funnelling some of that business their way.
To hammer this point home‚ the report dangled a carrot, stating: "Global sport sponsorship spend is forecast to reach over $62bn and global sporting media rights spend are expected to hit $45bn in 2017."
But elsewhere in the report‚ which was tabled at Cricket SA’s annual meeting at the weekend‚ came the less rosy fact that: "During the period under review T20GL generated revenue of R1.2m and incurred expenses of R4.5m with a net loss of R3.3m."
That is not news to league team owners‚ who have been told before that the tournament would take some time before it turned a profit.
But they will be keen to know how long‚ considering they will probably spend around R100m a year on running each of their franchises.
It will not help answer that question that‚ less than two months before the first ball is due to be bowled in the league‚ Cricket SA and SuperSport would seem to have a significant difference of opinion over the broadcast rights.
Cricket SA‚ it appears‚ is arguing that it has a spanking new set of rights to sell. SuperSport‚ apparently‚ is of the view that it already owns the rights to the cricket played in SA.
Both sides stand to lose significantly if this conversation‚ which is continuing‚ takes a turn for the worse.
Cricket SA could end up not being offered as much buck for its bang as it would like or none at all‚ and, if it decides to sell to someone else‚ SuperSport would face the unedifying prospect of having to buy the rights second-hand from another broadcaster to televise a tournament that is being played in its own backyard.
And buy them it would surely have to: given all the hype around the league, its audience would not take kindly to not being able to watch it.
Or are we on the cusp of the next stage of the media revolution: a potentially lucrative event broadcast online only‚ which would take middlemen such as networks out of the equation?
Not yet‚ probably‚ given the shoddy state of modern communications in SA, but streaming as the default broadcast option is the future.