Channel 7 is reportedly eager to offload the broadcasting rights for the upcoming Big Bash League.
Cricket Australia’s inability to prioritise the Twenty20 tournament over international fixtures has seen the value of the domestic T20 competition drop in Seven’s eyes.
The impact of the coronavirus could only make things worse as strict travel restrictions and biosecurity bubbles deter international talent from travelling Down Under.
The 2020/21 Big Bash League will be the longest in history, spanning more than two months after an early December start.
Combined with a compulsory two-week quarantine, international players could be expected to spend three months away from home if they stay for the full competition.
Australia’s biggest names are also expected to be unavailable due to international commitments. Four Test matches against India and consecutive one-day series against India and New Zealand will prevent the likes of Steve Smith and Co from playing many T20s.
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Because of the lack of high-profile names on display, Channel 7 requested a discount on its multimillion-dollar deal, which CA reportedly refused to accept. On Wednesday, The Australian revealed Foxtel was also seeking a reduction for the broadcast rights.
Channel 7 is now looking to offload the T20 tournament to another broadcaster, as reported by The Daily Telegraph’s Ben Horne.
Although concerns have been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the report suggested Channel 7 attempted to sell the BBL to Channel 10 in March.
Last week, Channel 7 chief executive James Warburton delivered a scathing assessment of Cricket Australia’s management, calling it a “trainwreck” and the “most incompetent” administration he has ever worked with.
Warburton warned Channel 7’s historic $450 million cricket deal could be terminated with four years remaining on the contract.
“We are forced to consider all our options including terminating the contract, and we have put them on notice,” Warburton told The Daily Telegraph.
“This is not an acceptable product, and we will not support the season. Cricket Australia have an obligation to deliver a competition of no lesser standard than the past.
“How stupid to schedule international cricket against the BBL and drain the resources of a competition already under pressure. It’s a joke, and it rips off the fans.
“We paid a huge price and were promised the world. There is an obligation to deliver the best quality to the broadcasters.
“It’s the most incompetent administration I’ve ever worked with, with no appointed full time chief executive officer at a time when the sport needs strong leadership to steer through these extraordinary times.”
Speaking from the Australian squad’s biosecurity bubble in England, national coach Justin Langer pleaded for the broadcast dispute to be resolved.
“I like to think in partnerships you have honest conversations, you sit down together and you get win-win situations,” Langer said, as reported by The Courier-Mail.
“In this case I hope, and I’m sure it will be, because for the health of the game and to put smiles on the face of people who love cricket we are looking for win-win.”
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Speaking to SEN’s Whateley, veteran journalist Robert Craddock claimed three Australian networks were on bad terms with the organisation.
“Somehow, and I’m not sure how it’s happened, but Cricket Australia have managed to offend all three free-to-air networks,” Craddock said on Monday.
“That’s quite an achievement because normally if Seven hate you, Nine love you.
“But Channel 9 fell out with Cricket Australia, and they no longer have the rights. They are pleased to see the back of them.
“Channel 10 are still furious at Cricket Australia … they thought they had the rights the last time they went around, but they lost them at about five minutes to midnight, so they’re furious.
“And of course Channel 7, their fury is on the table.
“Personally, I feel that the most likely outcome is that they’ll get a discount and continue on, but they’ve got their dukes in the air and they’ve got gloves on and they’re ready to rumble.”