Friday, April 20, 2007

ESPN-Star renegotiating ICC cricket deal?

There is a news item in The Economic Times that says ESPN-Star is looking at renegotiating the ICC cricket rights, which was pegged at around $1.2 billion.

The reasons quoted by the paper are:
  • India's performance is poor, and the value of Indian rights is more than 70% of the global value.
  • 2015 World Cup in Australia is non- prime time.
  • Advertisers are looking for safety clauses in contracts (if favourite teams flop, if rain impacts the tournament etc.)
  • Indian super stars will have retired by then (Sachin, Rahul, Saurav, Virender etc.)
  • DD-Nimbus encryption problems.
I think this is complete garbage. Firstly, team performance is mostly cyclic. Australian matches, if day-night, will get into reasonable prime-time. Maybe, they can hold more matches in Perth than anywhere else:-) Current super stars will be replaced by future super stars.

I think, the real issue is that the price quoted is anyway high, irrespective of all the above reasons. ESPN should not have bid $1.2 billion.

The main problem I see is the Indian government legislation on sharing the feed with Doordarshan. That lowers the value of World Cup rights and other cricket rights. India cannot enforce such legislation on matches played outside Indian territory. So, it is upto ICC and other cricket boards to join the broadcasters and fight the Government legislation in the Indian courts.

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