Records tumble as cricket set for another income bonanza

Records tumble as cricket set for another income bonanza
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Updated 23 June 2022

Records tumble as cricket set for another income bonanza

Records tumble as cricket set for another income bonanza
  • As money keeps pouring into game, cricket, particularly on Indian subcontinent, now capable of generating staggering sums of money for BCCI, in its train, ICC

Breaking records is in cricket’s DNA. England scored the highest-ever international 50-over total of 498 against the Netherlands last Friday.

Off the field, as highlighted in last week’s column, the $6.2 billion e-auction by the Board of Control for Cricket in India of media rights for the 2023 to 2027 cycle of the Indian Premier League, more than doubled its previous record of $2.6 billion. The income will be spilt almost equally between TV and digital streams, a change from the 75:25 balance in the previous cycle.

Hard on the heels of the BCCI auction comes the sale of media rights by the International Cricket Council for its next cycle, starting in 2024. It hopes to break records.

An invitation to tender (ITT) was issued on June 20, relating only to the lucrative Indian market, with men’s and women’s cricket being sold separately. This diverges from previous practice, when combined men’s and women’s rights were sold on a global basis. Sealed bids are to be submitted by Aug. 22, with successful bidders announced in September, along with details of their bids, but no others. After then, ITTs for other markets will be released.

Six packages are available, three each for men’s and women’s cricket, covering TV only, digital only, or a combination of the two. Between 2024 and 2031, 16 men’s events are available, comprising four T20 world cups, two 50-over world cups, four under-19 world cups, and six champions events. Bidders have the choice of opting for four or eight-year partnerships.

This is not the case for the women’s tournaments, which comprise two T20 world cups, two under-19 T20 world cups, one 50-over world cup, and one T20 champions trophy. Although only a four-year option is available, the ICC has made it clear that the highest bidder for the women’s events may not be awarded the contract.

Emphasis is being placed on how each bid will seek to promote the women’s game in line with the ICC’s commitment to continue to accelerate its recent growth.

Controversially, the ICC chair recently stated that he could not foresee women’s Test cricket being “part of the landscape moving forward to any real extent.” This is underlined by all of the matches in the women’s bid-packages being white-ball. However, asking bidders to be innovative suggests a lack of ideas or opportunism by the ICC. The requirement may cause nervousness about the criteria to be used under the ICC’s closed-bid system to determine winning submissions.

The concern also applies to the option of submitting four- and eight-year bids for men’s cricket. Over the next decade, changes in delivery technology are likely to occur, while changes in the balance of media consumption between TV and digital are already apparent. If, during the second four years, circumstances change markedly, will there be an opportunity to mitigate that risk?

In India, active internet users are forecast to grow to 900 million in 2025 from 560 million in 2017. In this changing landscape, the type of bidder-interest for cricket media rights is also displaying change. Names which had never been previously associated with cricket expressed interest in the IPL bidding process – Alphabet/Google, Apple, and Amazon – but decided not to enter. In 2022, Viacom18 and Times Internet were newly successful bidders, edging out Zee Enterprises and Sony, which had held the rights for 10 years before losing to Star in 2017.

The ICC has been greatly encouraged by the size of the bids for IPL media rights, regarding them as proof of an undiminished appetite by the media to promote cricket and that higher values will be obtained in this bidding round.

Disney-Star hold the rights in the current consolidated deal, reportedly worth just short of $2 billion. It also retained its hold on the TV rights for the IPL. Given this level of commitment, it is reasonable to assume that Disney will be in the frame for the ICC rights. However, it is worth noting that it chose not to bid for the IPL’s digital rights, concluding that the price was too high.

It is too early to know who else will bid and what their strategies will be, given the closeness of the bidding to IPL’s e-auction. One concern is that a review of viewership patterns in the 2022 IPL indicated a decline in TV viewership of one-third compared with 2021. A number of mitigating circumstances have been put forward by analysts. One was that the previous edition had ended in the UAE only in October 2021, perhaps inducing viewer fatigue. Another was that, as COVID-19 restrictions eased, viewers went out to public venues to watch the matches collectively rather than staying at home.

Advertisers were concerned to the point of seeking compensation. In any event, the decline did not adversely affect the returns achieved on the bidding for the next IPL cycle, quite the contrary.

What is being illustrated is that cricket, particularly on the Indian subcontinent, is now capable of generating staggering sums of money for the BCCI and, in its train, for the ICC. It claims to have more than 1 billion fans who watch ICC tournaments, around 70 percent in India.

Siren voices warn that cricket’s authorities have turned the game into a financial behemoth, in which T20 franchise cricket prospers and squeezes out the longer forms. In turn, this reduces choice for the spectator, with administrators standing by, apparently helpless to intervene, but happy enough to collect the money.

They could start by involving the current players and then taking notice of them. There is a Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations to coordinate and voice player’s opinions expressed through national associations. Its relationship with the ICC can be strained and, remarkably, India has no association.

It seems to be assumed that players will not complain because they are highly paid, that spectators and viewers will continue to pay to watch, and that advertisers will continue to purchase time on the space bought by the media channels. Currently, this is a successful business model that breaks financial records and brooks no opposition.


Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan
Updated 58 min 20 sec ago

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan
  • Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne leads the way in the Drivers’ World Championship with a five-point advantage over nearest challenger and double champion Jean-Eric Vergne of DS TECHEETAH

SAUDI ARABIA: The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns to Marrakesh on Saturday for round 10 in the 16-race season, with four drivers pulling ahead in the battle for the drivers’ title.

Going into the Marrakesh E-Prix at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan, Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne leads the way in the Drivers’ World Championship with a five-point advantage over nearest challenger and double champion Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH).

Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) is two points back in third place, while Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing), who won last time out in Jakarta, sits fourth, but only 12 points back from the standings lead.

With a maximum of 29 points on offer in Marrakesh, any one of those four drivers could lead the championship come the chequered flag on Saturday,

Evans’ win in Indonesia squeezed the margins splitting the top four, with Mortara and Vergne also making the podium last time around to pile the pressure on points pacesetter Vandoorne.

Consistency is key in Formula E if any driver is to assemble a run at the World Championship. The Belgian has finished outside the top five just twice in nine rounds, though both Evans and Mortara have scored in all but two races this season, while Vergne has never failed to tally.

The Atlas mountains provide the backdrop for Formula E’s fifth trip to the city’s centuries-old Agdal district, with the first Marrakesh E-Prix taking place in 2016. The track follows the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan — named after the crown prince of Morocco — before spilling out onto the streets of Marrakesh’s hotel district.

Renowned for being an energy-zapping circuit, this fast and highly technical track features 12 turns, three straights and a series of bends completing a track length of 2.971 kilometers.

Last time out in Morocco was magic for Antonio Felix da Costa and DS TECHEETAH who dominated proceedings, with victory setting in motion a run to the 2019-20 championship trophy.

Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) sealed the win on Formula E’s inaugural visit in 2016, with Felix Rosenqvist and Jerome D’Ambrosio taking back-to-back victories for Mahindra Racing in 2018 and 2019 before da Costa fired his season six title charge into life a year later here.


Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia

Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia
Updated 01 July 2022

Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia

Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia
  • Automobile Club d’Italia and Regione Sardegna co-organizing event

RIYADH: The countdown is on to the first-ever double-header Extreme E event, as the championship returns to the Italian island of Sardinia for a summer showdown of back-to-back racing on July 6-7 and July 9-10.

NEOM’s title sponsorship of the Island X Prix follows the announcement that Extreme E has entered into a multi-year relationship with ENOWA, NEOM’s energy, water, and hydrogen subsidiary, to introduce green hydrogen power to their global sustainable racing series.

Extreme E continues to showcase innovative sustainable solutions, whether they demonstrate the full potential of e-SUVs or deliver legacy programs at race locations.

The event will be returning to the Season 1 location of the army training area at Capo Teulada in Sulcis-Iglesiente. The Teulada will provide a challenging backdrop for the course, which measures around 7 kilometers.

Due to the hot summer conditions in July, the terrain will be much drier than last year’s Enel X Island X Prix, with the drivers having to navigate a harder, more compact surface riddled with rocks, bushes, and dry riverbeds cracked from the heat.

The purpose-driven message of the series will focus on blue and green carbon restoration in Sardinia, continuing to work alongside the MEDSEA Foundation (Mediterranean Sea and Coast Foundation) to support two significant projects.

For Round Two, the first project explores green carbon. The sport-for-purpose championship will be returning to Sennariolo to visit the communities affected by the devastating wildfires of 2021.

As for Round Three, the second project supports seagrass conservation,  mitigating the detrimental effects of blue carbon in Mediterranean waters.

Extreme E has been working closely with Automobile Club d’Italia - the national sports federation co-organizing and coordinating the event - the Region of Sardinia and its Tourism Department, the Ministry of Defense, and the Italian Army.


Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan

Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan
Updated 01 July 2022

Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan

Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan
  • Milan icon Maldini's new deal means that the seven-time European champions will keep the duo who built their Scudetto-winning side
  • Maldini worked alongside sporting director Frederic Massara to take Milan from the doldrums to the top of the Italian game

MILAN: Paolo Maldini will stay on as AC Milan’s technical director after signing a new two-year contract, the Serie A champions announced on Friday.
Milan icon Maldini’s new deal means that the seven-time European champions will keep the duo who built their Scudetto-winning side.
Maldini worked alongside sporting director Frederic Massara, who has also signed a two-year extension, to take Milan from the doldrums to the top of the Italian game.
“This deal highlights the importance of continuity we see throughout the club as we continue to strengthen and grow,” Milan said in a statement.
The 54-year-old confirmed late last night that he had signed an extension after weeks of delays which almost led to Milan starting the summer transfer window — which opened in Italy on Friday — without their key men.
He has been critical in Milan signing some of their most important players, one such example being a now-famous meeting in Ibiza which was crucial to bringing Theo Hernandez to the club in 2019.
France left-back Hernandez was a stand-out player in last season’s surprise title win.
Maldini is one of the greatest players in Milan’s history, winning a raft of trophies over a quarter of a century passed entirely with his boyhood club.
He played over 900 times for Milan, winning the European Cup or Champions League five times and claiming seven Serie A titles before retiring in 2009.
That success was not replicated in an Italy jersey despite earning 126 caps, losing in the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000 finals.
Last month Milan announced that current owners, investment fund Elliott Management, had agreed to sell the club to rival US fund RedBird for 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
Milan said that the sale of the club will be completed no later than September.


Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract

Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract
Updated 01 July 2022

Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract

Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract
  • The Egypt international had entered the final year of his existing contract
  • Salah has scored 156 goals in 254 appearances for the club since arriving in 2017

LIVERPOOL: Mohamed Salah signed a new three-year contract with Liverpool on Friday which will keep him at the club until 2025.
The Egypt international had entered the final year of his existing contract after negotiations over extending his stay dragged on for most of last season.
The 30-year-old forward’s wage demands had been a stumbling block, but a delegation flew out to meet with the player, who is still currently on holiday in the Mediterranean, and came to an agreement which reportedly makes the forward the highest-paid player in the club’s history.
“I feel great and (I am) excited to win trophies with the club. It’s a happy day for everyone,” Salah told the club’s website. “It takes a little bit of time, I think, to renew, but now everything is done so we just need to focus on what’s next. I think you can see in the last five or six years the team was always going (upwards).”
Salah has scored 156 goals in 254 appearances for the club since arriving in 2017 and has helped them win the Premier League, Champions League, Club World Cup, FA Cup and League Cup during that time.
“If I look back to that time when I came (here), the club were not winning many things but I think I told you I had come (here) to win trophies,” Salah said. “I think we have won good trophies together and I think we can do it again.”
Liverpool won the FA Cup and League cup last season but finished second to Manchester City in the Premier League and lost the final of the Champions League to Real Madrid.


Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying

Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying
Updated 01 July 2022

Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying

Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying
  • Saudi Arabia remained composed and saw out the game to seal a 69-67 win

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s basketball team secured their spot in the second round of qualifying for next year’s FIBA World Cup with a come-from-behind win against Indonesia in Jakarta on Friday.

The Saudis were down by 13 points at one point mid-third quarter, but outscored their hosts by 16-2 to lead 49-48 going into the final quarter.

Despite a valiant effort from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia remained composed and saw out the game to seal a 69-67 win, which propelled them to top of their Asia First Round qualifying pool.

The Saudis can go into their preparations for the second round in style if they seal another win on the road when they face Lebanon, who along with Jordan have also qualified for the next phase, in Zouk Mikael on Monday.

Indonesia are co-hosting next year’s basketball World Cup with the Philippines and Japan.