Cricket: IPL appeal in Australia still exists, just harder to find

Glenn Maxwell belts a six during his 95 (photo: BCCI/ESPN Cricinfo)
Glenn Maxwell belts a six during his 95 (photo: BCCI/ESPN Cricinfo)

The United Arab Emirates is the stage for the 2014 Indian Premier League – installment seven – and after just four matches, there has already been a platform set for all teams to play high quality cricket.

Let’s stop there for a moment, however.  How does the world see such a contest, and in particular, Australia?

In 2008, Channel Ten secured the rights to the IPL in Australia, in conjunction with a Sony deal of 10 years worth more than $1,000,000,000.

Just three years later, and 2010 would be the last time an IPL match was shown on Australian television screens.  The problem; the original worldwide TV deal with Sony was quashed by a controversy over a new TV rights deal, which “cancelled” the original.

Forget that the IPL is littered with controversy and multi-million dollar franchises; the quality on show comes from the huge pool of international players that put their interest into the mix.

Network Ten decided not to broadcast IPL 4 in 2011 because of the legal issues that were pulling at the seams between Sony, the World Sport Group and the BCCI.  In some ways, it was – and still is – a large factor in why the live streaming on YouTube has become so prominent.

Due to the lack of TV broadcasting, the appeal dropped fast.  Social media is now a very good indication of sporting event popularityand consequently “paralleled” with coverage.  Now, despite 23 Australians being picked up for 2014 contracts – existing or new – the flair and attraction that was attached to the IPL has waned.  Not non-existent, but waned.

Australians and TV live sport fit together “like a glove”.  The raging success that was the 2013/2014 KFC Twenty20 Big Bash League suggests that domestic Twenty20 cricket is still drawing huge audiences.

The numbers on the broadcast rights deal are staggering, yes; unfortunately, they are so big that everyone wants a piece of the pie – and for some, the desire not be caught in a legal crossfire is greater than sporting coverage.

Fox Sports Australia did not come to the rescue either.  With Ten still the Australian broadcast rights holders, there was little they could do.

Where the fans lie

Live cricket on TV has always been the pinnacle for Australian cricket fans.  Asking them to tune in online loses the aura of “live sport on television.”

The IPL is by no means just another domestic tournament; franchises are scooping the money out from their big sacks for six to eight weeks of the year.

Media does not focus much of their sport coverage on the IPL simply because Australian free-to-air or pay TV networks are not carrying it.  Fans now are not realising that the tournament has started – which, in turn, diminishes the audience.

After the last few days

At the top of the IPL “food chain”, the handling of the tournament has been in question.  Nevertheless, this should not take away from the spectacle.

Chennai Super Kings scored 205 against Kings Eleven Punjab on Friday, and still lost, thanks to Glenn Maxwell and David Miller.  Live streaming is the only way Australians can get their dose of the action for now; what the future holds for Australia when it comes to, arguably, the world’s biggest Twenty20 tournament, hangs in the balance.

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