Global market for cricket’s media rights is expected to surpass $2 billion, states a new report published by Media Partners Asia (MPA). The market for 2018 is reported at
$1 billion for the first time ever.
Three key markets – India, Australia, and England – have accounted for 90% of the value.
The value of global media rights will register a growth of 70% to reach $1.7 billion in 2019. ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales, from May 30 to July 14, is stated to be the key driver for the growth.
The report, called The Future of Cricket, suggests that cricket’s future prospects can be optimised even further if cricket boards and authorities implement structural changes while reallocating resources to meet global potential and growing consumer demand.
Cricket is already one of the top ten sports worldwide in terms of media valuation. MPA estimates that cricket’s valuation will top US$2 billion in 2021, with the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup likely to be held in India that year.
The report also stated that the game’s growing value is largely due to cricket’s youngest and shortest format T20.
ODIs and Test cricket formats, played by 12 national teams, need to be revitalized as they lack relevance and lag in monetization. The popularity of Test cricket, states the report, is declining, with both stadium attendance and TV viewership eroding steadily over the last five years. Nonetheless, a critical mass of traditional fans still follow Test cricket.
Commenting on the report’s findings, MPA executive director Vivek Couto said, “Cricket is Asia’s biggest sport in terms of viewership and has successfully absorbed three different game formats. Audiences and fans have moved rapidly to shorter formats, allowing new avenues for monetisation as digital distribution accelerates. Cricket boards now need to harness new audiences and markets as digital content formats open up for monetisation.”
The report identifies four main growth drivers for cricket:
Digital innovation: The explosion of smartphones and broadband connectivity has boosted consumption of live matches. In the first three weeks of IPL 2019, more than 267 million viewers accessed the league via Hotstar, India’s premier sports and entertainment streaming platform. Auxiliary digital services such as fantasy gaming and live VR are also driving overall engagement.
Cricket clubs: Club cricket has instilled global standards of professionalism, playing a part in expanding cricket’s appeal to family fanbases. Club cricket has also become one of the most definitive means to identify and nurture talent. Clubs require an expanded window, including the possibility of having the world’s best domestic clubs play each other every year.
A well-defined calendar & formats: A calendar with appropriate and exclusive windows for club T20s and international cricket can grow all game formats. Boards must re-emphasize multilateral competitions for ODIs and T20s, while the proposed World Test Championship will probably need to be restructured.
Women’s and youth based cricket: Growing adoption of women’s and youth-based tournaments, together with the related demographic split of the audience, offers an opportunity to introduce cricket to new fans. Club-based domestic T20s are likely to provide the ideal path to invest in this endeavor.