UPDATE (18/05/2017) – We’ve now seen some fuller details: 8 KSL matches will be part of the FTA package, plus 1 women’s T20 international – so basically… it is all good news – no but!!!
Today’s exclusive by Elizabeth Ammon in The Times – that the KSL Final will be broadcast free-to-air from 2020 – is welcome news for the women’s game.
The KSL Final will be one element in a package of matches, including two men’s T20 internationals, which the ECB will require whoever wins the next broadcasting contract to make available free-to-air.
It is worth noting that this doesn’t necessarily mean these games will be shown on traditional “TV” – for example, BT Sport will this year fulfil similar contractual requirements for men’s football by partnering with YouTube.
Nevertheless, it’s good news… right?
It is… but there’s a but!
By continuing the policy of folding the women’s broadcast deal in with the men’s, it seems that this one match will be the only women’s cricket which will be shown free-to-air – Pay TV (be it Sky or BT Sport) will therefore likely retain exclusivity for England women’s internationals and the rest of the Super League; dashing hopes that a stand-alone women’s free-to-air TV deal might have become the driver for a surge in interest in the sport, as we’ve seen with both women’s football in England and women’s cricket in Australia.
With all the good news we’ve had recently, from All Stars Cricket (which anecdotally really does seem to have hit a sweet spot) to live-streaming of the Women’s World Cup, there’s no doubt that we do seem to be moving in the right direction – but it will take more than one game on free-to-air to change the landscape.
Anyone expecting a deal with terrestrial TV at its core is deluded that will not fill the ECB & county coffers or meet the audience needs. The next generation of cricket fans want streaming and online highlights, they don’t want to pay satellite subscriptions.
As for All Stars Cricket yes there has been a boost in participation by 5-8 year olds BUT the long-term impact will not be clear for sometime if at all. Using my club/centre as a microcosm of ASC we have seen an increase in numbers. Are they all new to cricket, definitely not, many came last season. So I’m certain that only a percentage of the 25k are the ‘new’ demographic the ECB are targeting.
All that aside its about how many of these All Stars come back next week and season with their families to swell the club membership. ASC is after all loss leader for the Clubs.
They say half a loaf is better than none but this is certainly not even half a loaf, not even a slice. I hear what Baz is saying about the finances, and I have sympathy with Baz’s point, but take that route there’s a risk that ultimately we’ll all have IPL style tournaments and nothing else. How long will the enthusiasm last for that? The fact that cricket comes in so many forms is part of its appeal from a game you can play after a day’s work, to five hard days of showing real skill and guts. If the public don’t see that variety, or at least only those that can afford £100+ a month, the sport may ultimately die. The KSL has shown crowds will appear at women’s games and there’s no reason to doubt they’d press the appropriate BBC/ITV or whatever button too. If this tournament doesn’t get more TV publicity it’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts! The County Championship has always suffered from a lack of even the most simple planning and PR with most counties not even including fixtures in their annual membership programmes – things that would be SO EASY to put right. Streaming is a great thing, but not really a substitute for Free To Air TV for at least a slice of the possible output. The Aussies have shown what the market may hold – let’s stop being so timid and get this sport out there!
Don its not my route I’m all for the CA model too.
But the ECB approach to seems to be at odds with the media profile they’re trying to attract. There is no major sponsor for All Stars Cricket and the England team have reverted to sponsorship with from an industry and institution with a reputation problem of their own.