BBL Finale Set To Be Given Clear Air For Broadcasters

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Clearance Would Be Given For Broadcasters By Shifting New Zealand Series:

Pleas to give the Big Bash League greater prominence in the summer calendar seems to have been attended by Cricket Australia, with the planned late January limited-overs visit of New Zealand likely to be moved back into February to ensure that the domestic T20 tournament has clear air at a critical time for its free-to-air broadcaster Seven.

While only one of the many moving parts of the season is fundamentally affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the ODI matches between Australia and New Zealand scheduled for 26, 29 and 31 January, plus the T20I on 2 February, are understood to have been a sore point in their intermingling with the back end of the BBL, which is currently scheduled to end its regular season on 26 January, with the finals running up to February 6.

This crossover will make it difficult for a number of famous Australian players to take part in the final throes of the BBL, not least the currently uncontracted Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and David Warner trio, but also Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis.

By moving the New Zealand cycle, CA will build about three weeks of room for foreign delegates to take part in the BBL, although a tour of South Africa is scheduled to take place later in February. New Zealand has also made commitments to host Bangladesh in February, before Australia arrives for the T20I series in March.

Seven’s demand for more exposure and greater availability of players for the BBL, especially in the late January period used as a “launch pad” to promote other broadcast offerings for 2021 while also competing with the high-profile Australian Open tennis on Nine, has posed one of the major problems caused by the A$ 1.2 billion rights deal with the FTA network alongside pay TV provider Foxtel in 2018.

As part of the deal for which it paid about A$ 750 million to Seven’s A$ 450 million, Fox Sports and its streaming outfit Kayo were given exclusive rights to Australian men’s ODIs and T20Is, plus a portion of exclusive BBL matches. Fox and Seven both missed out last summer when the BBL was shorn by Australian players in mid-January as a result of an ODI tour of India, while Fox’s limited-over games were forced to the very margins of the season.

However, CA has maintained a strong desire to retain a significant portion of cricket on the FTA to increase the size of the game ‘s audience, a strategic aim that is conveniently aligned with the growth imperatives that led to the development and expansion of the BBL.

While the governing body is understandably reluctant to enter into content-level negotiations with either Seven or Foxtel, given that the near inevitability of the discounted price is the outcome, both networks are reported to have been advised that substantially more cash will be expended to attract a higher level of international players to the next BBL- A target that will be supported by Australia ‘s status as one of the best venues in the world to play elite sport at the time of Covid-19.

This was underscored by England’s limited-over captain Eoin Morgan when he pointed out that the BBL was now an enticing opportunity for white-ball cricketers in the northern hemisphere seeking a bridge between the end of their home season and the next IPL.

“A lot of the guys we’ve got in the squad right now are young guys coming through, and when you’re at that point of career growth, six to eight to twelve months is really quite a lot of time,” Morgan said. “In fact, I think the challenge for these guys is to get a chance to go and play.

“The IPL is moving forward, and we’ve got a long tour to India that really frees up guys to play a full Big Bash and then hopefully put forward their case to be selected for the IPL in the new year. So, trying to introduce them to a lot more white-ball cricket will improve their progress, rather than just sitting at home, not playing anything, and wondering what the next summer will look like for us.

Whatever the exact identities of the international players who end up taking part in the BBL, a schedule that gives more hope for Cummins, Warner and Starc to take part in the domestic event will be music to the ears of both Seven and Foxtel executives.

Seven Chief Executive James Warburton, a week after hammering CA ‘s management as “incompetent,” struck a much more conciliatory tone after his planned meeting with his opposite number, Nick Hockley, on Friday.

“We’ve had a good meeting with Cricket Australia,” Warburton said. “No decisions have been reached, but we have decided to keep talking.”

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