Network Ten’s love affair with Twenty-20 cricket has been reignited after the network grabbed a slice of Cricket Australia’s broadcast pie.
Ten has signed a five-year deal as the exclusive free-to-air broadcaster of the KFC T20 Big Bash League (BBL). It is the first time the BBL will be broadcast on free-to-air after seasons 1 and 2 were broadcast exclusively on Fox Sports. Ten will also broadcast the Women’s T20 domestic final.
TEN Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Hamish McLennan, said:
“We are delighted to join forces with Cricket Australia as its exclusive domestic Twenty20 cricket partner and we look forward to a long, successful partnership. The Twenty20 Big Bash League is a great competition, and TEN and Cricket Australia will make it a major free-to-air television event. We will work closely with Cricket Australia on the scheduling, marketing and promotion of the league to ensure it is the premium domestic sporting event of the Australian summer.
Our agreement with Cricket Australia fits perfectly with TEN’s strategy of bring big television events to a broad audience. The Twenty20 Big Bash League will give TEN more than 100 hours of exciting content across the 2013-14 summer and will be a compelling event for viewers and advertisers.”
This is not the first time Network Ten has covered T20 cricket. It was the inaugural Australian broadcaster of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on its digital multichannel TEN HD/ONE. Its coverage of the IPL ceased due to a contractual dispute (the IPL is now seen in Australia via live streaming on Google’s YouTube). Ten has also covered the XXXX Beach Cricket carnival and Australia’s 1995 tour of the West Indies (where PSN, the precursor to Fox Sports, was the subscription broadcaster and Ten had the free-to-air rights).
Ten has said that details of its coverage, including its commentary team, will be announced later this year. It will be interesting to see if it is able to innovate its coverage the way Fox Sports did with Fox Kopter and Helmet cam. No doubt Ten will be looking to capitalise on the Big Bash brand to help it rebuild its network audience and advertising share.
Reports in The Australian suggest that Ten is headhunting Fox Sports commentators Brendon Julian, Mark Waugh and Damien Fleming to headline its BBL commentary team. No doubt the likeable Mark Howard will also get a gig in Ten’s coverage.
Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer, James Sutherland, said the move of KFC Big Bash League broadcasts to Ten was a significant win for Australian cricket fans.
“[the] Big Bash League is bringing a lot of new fans to cricket and being on Ten offers us a strategically important opportunity to greatly expand the audience for this exciting new format.”
Along with Ten’s purchase of the 2014 Winter Olympic broadcast rights, Ten’s summer schedule has certainly taken a boost with it now covering a variety of key summer events including the Hopman Cup, Ironman & Ironwoman series and the BBL. This should put it in a stronger position moving into the first half of the 2014 ratings year.