The above headline wasn’t, by the way, a genuine call for Mike Gatting (above) to turn up for a job interview. The Guardian’s Mike Scott reports there’s been a stunning development that gives Disney’s sports arm an even stronger grip on televised cricket rights.
ESPN yesterday committed to a £513m investment in the Champions Twenty20 League in a deal that would seem to shatter all precedent for cricket broadcasting. But there was more to the agreement than meets the eye.
The deal matches ESPN’s $1bn contract with the International Cricket Council to cover all its tournaments including premium offerings such as the World Cup, the T20 World Cup and Test matches. As such ESPN would seem to be staking a massive gamble on attracting viewers to what are only 222 matches over 10 years involving regional teams. But the Asian television giant has got a whole lot more for its money. According to documents seen by this column, ESPN Star will effectively now run the tournament’s commercial interests.
The Champions T20 League’s three shareholder nations – India, South Africa and Australia – have signed away to ESPN their rights not only to broadcasting but a host of other potentially lucrative properties. ESPN now has the opportunity to recover its investment not only through advertising revenue but also through the sale of sponsorship and merchandising.