Why millions of Australians may miss out on watching the T20 cricket World Cup

(Photo by Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images)

Australia’s millions of cricket fans may be forced to miss out on watching this year’s T20 cricket World Cup in India after all local broadcasters reportedly pulled out of rights negotiations.

The tournament, which starts on March 16 has, according to The Age, been snubbed by Aussie networks after the Indian TV giant Star Sports demanded an obscenely high price for the rights.

That’s on top of the roughly 30% tax bill that the rights holder would have to pay to the Dubai-based ICC.

It’s also believed New Zealand networks were having trouble negotiating the deal.

In 2014, the ICC sold off the rights to all major tournaments until 2023, with the only two networks in the world to secure deals being Sky Sports for the UK and Star Sports globally. As part of Star’s almost $3.5 billion deal, the Asian broadcaster can sell off the rights to international TV networks.

Interestingly though, Star Sports is ultimately owned by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Murdoch also owns News Corp, which has Fox Sports in its stable.

All three networks, including Nine, which showed the last two T20 World Cups, have confirmed that they do not have the broadcast rights for the tournament.

At first it was believed that the free-to-air networks were waiting for Fox to grab the rights, which would lower costs as the tournament is on the anti-siphoning list, meaning in most cases pay-TV broadcasters can’t secure exclusive rights.

As part of this, Nine and Fox previously had a deal to share coverage of all major ICC tournaments. That expired after the ODI World Cup in Australia last year.

The one exception for Fox to grab exclusive rights is if no free-to-air network has claimed the rights within 12 weeks of the tournament. However, they have also passed on that opportunity.

While free-to-air broadcasters still could bid for the rights, it would now force them to put all games on their main channel rather than a secondary one. Considering the changes they would need to make to their first-choice programming to allow this, it creates a big deterrent for a last minute deal.

Australia’s last hope now rests with Murdoch chiming in between his two networks and getting them to work as a team and do things his way.

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