With the Cricket Australia and Australia Cricketers Association row reaching no point of conclusion, the broadcast partners are starting to feel the pinch. As per the reports, the major host broadcaster for Australia, Channel Nine, is already pushing the board to break the ice and reach a common ground with ACA.
The channel has been the sole broadcaster of Australia’s home cricket internationals since 1979. It currently holds the rights for home Tests, ODIs and T20Is under a five-year, $500m deal struck in 2013. The arrangement is set to expire after the 2017-18 summer. CA’s fortunes are heavily tied to this home broadcast deal. No doubt, Channel Nine being associated with the board for 38 years wishes to renew the deal for ‘all forms of cricket’ by the end of 2017 – but in the current circumstances board knows, they won’t risk.
On the other hand, Network Ten, which holds the current rights for the Big Bash, the deal amounting to $100m for 5 years, is also to be renewed.
As per the various Australian reports, CA hopes to net $900m for the next media rights cycle deal: about $120m a year from the international Test, ODIs and T20Is, and the other $60m a year for the Big Bash. The governing body is optimistic that competition between the commercial networks and pay-TV would help it net that sort of amount.
However, media companies ready to bid are a worry lot now. They are of the opinion that if the settlement is not reached in due time, they will have no product to broadcast. But this will have much bigger repercussions for the governing body, which will lose the bidders interest, jeopardizing the long-standing relations and revenue sources.
CA’s problem doesn’t end with home rights deals. As per the information with insidesport.co, the board’s rights deal for the territory of Indian Sub-Continent is up for renewal by end of July 2017, but there has been no official word from the governing body on the same. Currently, Star Sports hold the rights for Indian sub-continent valued at $212 million for 5 years. Moreover the reduced competitiveness in the market in form of TEN SPORTS acquisition by SONY further puts CA at disadvantage.
There is another threat looming for CA and that may turn out to be nail in the coffin. If Australian players continue to hold their fort and refuses to tour for forthcoming Bangladesh, India & Ashes series, Cricket Australia may get embroiled in legal issues with the host boards.
Australia is due to play Test matches in Bangladesh in August and then ODIs in India in October and following it is Ashes series. Although the Ashes are not scheduled to start until November 23, England are due to fly to Australia at the end of October. Unless matters in Australia are resolved by then, it is entirely possible the ECB will take the decision to cancel the tour and recoup what costs they can. The consequences – legal and financial – would be enormous.
CA is also understood to be feeling the heat from its commercial partners, who have lost the rights to market themselves using the cricketers’ images as the players have signed their intellectual property over to The Players’ Brand, controlled by the ACA.
Key sponsors KFC and Toyota are wary about failure of administrators and players to come to a speedy resolution. Big Bash League title sponsor KFC, which pays around $3-$4M each year to Cricket Australia, is of the opinion that the uncontracted players now will be on the lookout for new endorsement deals with corporate rivals. The first one came in the form of Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc signing a sponsorship contract with an Audi dealership.
The board is also facing a battle of re-signing key corporate backers in a number of sponsorship categories: they have already lost their Victoria Bitter sponsorship; the Commonwealth Bank has, according to Fairfax, cut their deal from $13m to $4m; and KFC’s lucrative deal will expire at the end of 2018.
CA can ill afford the crisis scenario of having major sponsors pulling out or walk away from the Australian cricket.
With pressure from all the corners, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has finally taken the first step to get into negotiations with the Australian Cricket Association. However, the talks could not yield much result. With days passing by to reach a common resolution point, CA’s trouble is sure to intensify.