T20 Global League already losing money
The T20 Global League (T20GL) has yet to see the lights of day/night but already it’s costing millions in losses.
South Africa’s bid to join the made-for-television T20 circus that has swept the world game and‚ not by accident‚ created a rich stream of revenue‚ is due to be played in November and December.
“What successful competitions like the IPL [Indian Premier League]‚ the Big Bash in Australia and Pakistan’s Super League have shown us is that cricket is no longer just a game – it is now big business‚” Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) latest annual report says in what sounds like breathless anticipation of funnelling some of that business their way.
To hammer the point home‚ the report dangled a carrot: “Global sport sponsorship spend is forecast to reach over US$62-billion and global sporting media rights spend are expected to hit US$45-billion in 2017.”
But elsewhere in the report‚ which was tabled at CSA’s annual meeting at the weekend‚ came the less rosy fact that‚ “During the period under review T20GL generated revenue of R1.2-million and incurred expenses of R4.5-million with a net loss of R3.3-million.”
That’s not news to T20GL team owners‚ who have been told previously that the tournament would take time to turn a profit.
But they will be keen to know how long‚ considering they will likely spend around R100-million a year on running each of their franchises.
It won’t help answer that question that‚ less than two months before the first ball is due to be bowled in the T20GL‚ CSA and SuperSport would seem to be in the throes of a significant difference of opinion over the broadcast rights.
CSA‚ it appears‚ are arguing that they have a spanking new set of rights to sell.
SuperSport‚ apparently‚ are of the view that they already own the rights to cricket played in South Africa.
Both sides stand to lose significantly if this conversation‚ which is ongoing‚ takes a turn for the worse.
CSA could end up not being offered as much buck for their bang as they would like or none at all‚ and if they decide to sell to someone else‚ SuperSport would face the unedifying prospect of having to buy the rights secondhand from another broadcaster to televise a tournament being played in their own backyard.
And buy them they would surely have to: given all the hype around the T20GL their audience wouldn’t take kindly to not being able to watch the cricket.
Or might we be on the cusp of the next stage of the media revolution: a potentially lucrative event broadcast online only‚ which would take middlemen (and they are almost all men) like networks out of the equation?
Not yet‚ probably‚ given the shoddy state of modern communications in South Africa and the fact that boards are still likely to make more money flogging their product to broadcasters than presenting it themselves.
But streaming as the default broadcast option is the future‚ and it’s coming.