- The first season of a $1.18 billion rights deal with Seven and Fox Sports is now underway.
- The pay TV channel has the exclusive rights to the ODI and T20 matches between Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and India.
- Seven will broadcast the test matches and some Big Bash League games.
Many cricket fans discovered a hard truth about Cricket Australia’s $1.182 billion six-year TV rights deal with Fox Sports and Seven West Media on Sunday when they went to watch the opening One Day International (ODI) between Australia and South Africa, only to discover that it wasn’t being broadcast on free-to-air TV.
The deal, in April, saw Nine walk away from cricket after four decades, while Fox scored the exclusive rights to the Men’s ODI and T20 Internationals against South Africa, Sri Lanka and India this summer.
So you won’t be watching the games for free. You can watch them via the Cricket Australia app on your smartphone or tablet, but you’ll also need to subscribe.
The upside of missing out is you’ll probably save yourself plenty of pain. Australia were humiliated in that first ODI – bowled out for 152 in the 39th over –
and have now lost seven matches in a row this season.
The second ODI is on this afternoon in Adelaide. The Proteas won the toss and elected to field, leaving one wag to comment on Twitter that it should be another short game.
Fox Sports must be hoping its investment will pay off, but it appears to need the Australian side to improve dramatically for that to happen.
Along with the ODI and T20 matches, the pay TV channel will exclusively screen the 13 domestic one-day games, the Sheffield Shield final and some tour matches.
Sunday’s ODI attracted an average of 205,000 viewers nationally for Fox across the two sessions – 277,000 when Australia batted, then less than half that, 133,000, for the second session.
That audience is around a quarter of the usual number when ODIs were on Nine. A mid-January game against England this year had a national average audience of around 1.6 million, so the stakes in the move to Pay TV are high when it comes to the future of the 50-over game, a format already under question.
Of course you can still listen to the cricket for free on ABC radio.
But it appears not everyone is happy with the quality of service provided by the Cricket Australia app, even if it sounds like a nice little earner on the advertising front.
@CAComms I don’t have @Foxtel I missed today’s game. I’m filthy not having been on free to air. Decided to watch 10 wickets on app. I endured 10×15 sec ads, 1 pre every wicket. 7x @bet365_aus 2x @CommBank 1x @ASICSaustralia I’ve now deleted your app. Good luck this summer #AUSvSA
— GK (@11naxos) November 4, 2018
So what will you get to watch for free this summer, especially over Christmas leftovers?
The good news Seven and Fox Sports will broadcasting all test matches simultaneously. The first test against India takes strike in Adelaide on December 6, followed by Perth on Dec 14 and the third test on Boxing Day in Melbourne, and finally
Seven will air 43 games of the domestic Big Bash League, with Fox broadcasting the remaining 16 matches exclusively, as well as simulcasting the others.
The two networks with air the women’s international matches and 23 women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) matches, while Cricket Australia will live stream the remaining WBBL matches on cricket.com.au and the CA Live App.
CA will continue to stream games not broadcast by the two networks including international tour matches, the domestic one-day cup and Sheffield Shield matches.
Nine still has the rights to the 2019 Ashes tour of the UK, as well as the 2019 World Cup, also in the UK, as well as the 2020 World T20 in Australia under pre-existing deals with the ICC
This week, the executive responsible for negotiating the deal for Cricket Australia departed the organisation in a shakeup by the troubled organisation’s new CEO