Tele-scores: ESPN Acquires Rights To 1,108 Days Of International Cricket

New Delhi: | Updated: Jul 30 2002, 05:30am hrs
It’s war in the cricket space, with more number crunching happening in the broadcasting arena than on the field and off it. After losing out to two broadcasters in acquiring rights to big-time sporting events such as World Cup Cricket and the FIFA World Cup, ESPN Star Sports has announced a “clean sweep of cricket rights”.

ESPN Star Sports has acquired exclusive telecast rights for all international cricket to be played in five countries till 2008.

While Sony Entertainment Television (SET) is said to have forked out around $250 million to bag the satellite telecast rights to ICC Cricket 2002 and World Cup 2003 & 2007, sources put ESPN Star Sports’ cost for acquiring the five-country multi-platform cricket rights spanning five years at around $200 million. Neither Sony nor ESPN have confirmed the figures.

Calling it “one of the world’s biggest ever acquisitions of international cricket rights”, ESPN Software India managing director Manu Sawhney gave details of the matches at a press conference here on Monday. The rights are for all international cricket from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and England from 2003 to 2008. With this acquisition, the network will now air 1,108 days of live and exclusive cricket over the next five years, Mr Sawhny said.

In terms of number of international cricket matches to be beamed on the network, ESPN Star Sports is way ahead of Sony, Ten Sports and Doordarshan, the other channels showing cricket in the country. But so far as popularity goes, the World Cup tops the charts. But maintained Mr Sawhney: “With this acquisition, the networks will now be able to showcase more live international cricket than the entire competition put together.” Against ESPN’s 1,108, SET, Ten Sports and DD have 153, 184 and 80 days of international cricket, respectively. Not just that, there’s statistics on offer on youth cricket, international cricket, India cricket and even on A, B and C class cricket, and each broadcaster’s pie in that.

Talking numbers, ESPN Star Sports scores over others in bagging multi-platform telecast rights too. The network has rights for cable and satellite TV, terrestrial TV, enhanced television and even radio in the region. It hasn’t decided on what to do with the terrestrial rights though. Even as DD is the only network with terrestrial channels, it hasn’t begun any negotiations with the public broadcaster for selling the terrestrial rights. For comparison DD will share the honours with Sony in telecasting World Cup Cricket 2003 & 2007 and ICC Cricket 2002. While DD has paid around $22.5 million to acquire the terrestrial rights to the important matches in the tournaments, Sony has bagged the satellite rights to all the tournaments for around $250 million.

Interestingly, ESPN Star Sports calls itself ‘cricket ke asli badshah’. One of the reasons for calling itself that: Batting sensation Sachin Tendulkar was appointed the brand ambassador for ESPN Star Sports. But, Sony could counter that one. Sony’s brand ambassador Kapil Dev beat Tendulkar to win the Indian Cricketer of the Century award given by UK-based Wisden recently!