The popularity of test cricket in particular is declining, with both stadium attendance and television viewership eroding steadily over the last five years. (PTI)
The popularity of test cricket in particular is declining, with both stadium attendance and television viewership eroding steadily over the last five years. (PTI)

Global media rights for cricket to touch $2 billion by 2021: Report

  • The findings stated that three key markets – India, Australia and England – accounted for 90% of the value of cricket’s global media rights in 2018
  • With the explosion of smartphones and broadband connectivity, the consumption of live matches has significantly shot up

New Delhi: The global media rights for cricket crossed $1 billion mark in 2018 and is expected to top $2 billion in 2021, according to a report published by independent research and consulting group Media Partners Asia (MPA). The chart indicates value of global media rights for all cricket formats (ODI, T20 and test) across all boards.

This growth is driven by factors such as new avenues of digital content monetization, expansion to new markets, recalibration in cricket board funding, uptake for local clubs, and the role of women and youth-based cricket leagues.

The findings stated that three key markets – India, Australia and England – accounted for 90% of the value of cricket’s global media rights in 2018. MPA analysis predicted that the value of global media rights will reach $1.7 billion in 2019, driven by the ICC ODI Cricket World Cup being held in June.

“Cricket is Asia’s biggest sport in terms of viewership and has successfully absorbed three different game formats. Audiences and fans have moved rapidly to shorter formats, allowing new avenues for monetization as digital distribution accelerates. Cricket boards now need to harness new audiences and markets as digital content formats open up for monetisation," said Vivek Couto, executive director, MPA.

Digital has emerged as the primary factor driving the growth of media rights. With the explosion of smartphones and broadband connectivity, the consumption of live matches has significantly shot up. Auxiliary digital services such as fantasy gaming and live virtual reality (VR) are also driving overall engagement.

Cricket clubs are the second biggest factor driving the growth. Apart from as instilling global standards of professionalism, these clubs also help in identifying and nurturing talent. However, the report points out that the cricket club do require an expanded window, including the possibility of having the domestic clubs play each other every year.

The report also highlighted that a calendar with appropriate and exclusive windows for club T20s and international cricket can grow all game formats. Cricket boards must re-emphasize multilateral competitions for ODIs and T20s, while the proposed World Test Championship will probably need to be restructured.

Growing adoption of women’s and youth-based tournaments, together with the related demographic split of the audience, offers an opportunity to introduce cricket to new fans. Club-based domestic T20s are likely to provide the ideal path to invest in this endeavor.

MPA emphasizes that while the growth in cricket is coming from shortest format Twenty20s (T20s), ODIs and test cricket formats need to be revitalized as they lack relevance and lag in monetization. The popularity of test cricket in particular is declining, with both stadium attendance and television viewership eroding steadily over the last five years.

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