Cricket: World Cup broadcast deal slammed by major TV lobby group

The deal to put the world’s major cricket tournaments, including Australia’s World Cup defence, behind a paywall has been slammed by Australia’s peak industry body for commercial TV.

On Monday, the International Cricket Council announced that all of its tournaments, including Australia’s World Test Championship and ODI World Cup defences, would be screened exclusively on streaming service Amazon Prime.

It’s part of a landmark four-year partnership that gives Amazon Prime broadcast rights in Australia for all men’s and women’s ICC tournaments until 2027.

The recent ODI World Cup triumph was screened in Australia on the Nine Network, and only last week federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland introduced laws to parliament updating anti-siphoning measures that would require free-to-air services to be offered first refusal for important sporting events.

“All Australians, regardless of where they live or what they earn, should have the opportunity to enjoy free TV coverage of iconic sporting events,” Rowland said.

But while the ICC heralded the new arrangement, industry lobby group Free TV Australia said fears that streaming giants were “coming for” major sports had been realised and called for changes to the nation’s anti-siphoning rules to be fast-tracked.

“We have been saying for years that streaming giants would be coming for our sports rights here in Australia and the acquisition of World Cup cricket by Amazon just proves the point,” Free TV Australia chief executive Bridget Fair said

“All Australians deserve the right to share our great sporting moments for free, and that right is in serious jeopardy.

“There is a real risk that more of our iconic sports events could be exclusively acquired by subscription streaming platforms that aren’t currently covered by the anti-siphoning rules.

“With cost-of-living pressures in overdrive, we cannot allow access to key sporting events to be dictated by what subscription services Australians can afford.

“It might also be time to look at whether the limitation of cricket games on the list to those played in Australia or New Zealand is working for the Australian public.

“We should be able to watch our national team play no matter where the game is taking place.”

The new deal also gives Amazon the rights to the Women’s ODI World Cup, T20 World Cups, Champions Trophy, under 19s and the World Test Championship final.

Australia and New Zealand will host the 2028 T20 World Cup, which isn’t included in Amazon’s rights agreement.

Major sports in both Australia and around the world are now engaging with streaming giants as part of broadcast deals that could put more of their product behind paywalls.

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