ABC loses exclusive cricket broadcast rights

2UE, 3AW and other commercial stations in the Fairfax Media network are expected to begin live cricket commentary this summer, breaking the ABC’s traditional stranglehold on the game.  The ABC will still continue its test coverage, but is likely to lose its rights to a range of domestic matches.
Triple M is also expected to secure rights to the Twenty20 Big Bash League.
In the early days of ‘Packer Cricket’ 2UE mounted live coverage of major games, but ceased when the coverage got too expensive and was considered to take up too much of the day’s broadcast time. With 2UE languishing in the current ratings, live cricket commentary will probably not hurt daytime ratings, as it did back then, but other higher rating stations in the Fairfax network may be adversely affected.
Cricket is known to polarise audiences. While many cricket lovers rush to the ABC to hear the summer cricket calls, other more traditional ABC talk format listeners desert the station during that time. Unlike football coverage, which is quick, the long coverage hours of cricket do not always deliver good ratings.
Cricket Australia aims to broaden the audience of cricket’s traditional format by offering more stations coverage rights.
Last year radioinfo reported on Cricket Australia’s refusal to allow the ABC to broadcast calls on phone apps, a move which foreshadowed the current decision.
Cricket Australia will now keep the digital market to itself, after partnering with Nine in a digital rights alliance that will have televised games streamed live on smartphone, tablets and the Cricket Australia website.

ABC Radio began its broadcasts of Australia-England test matches in 1924. Before radio, cricket enthusiasts had to rely on newspaper reports. ABC Radio developed an ingenious system, called synthetic cricket, used from 1934, where commentators in Sydney recreated the game with a wooden pencil tapped on the desk.

The ABC will retain Test cricket rights (now shared with 2UE and 3AW) and limited-overs international cricket, but has lost the rights to call Sheffield Shield, Ryobi Cup and BBL matches.  These matches are not expected to get much live radio coverage, although Triple M is expected to cover some of the expanded local T20 tournament.

Earlier, here on radioinfo we reported that former Austereo manager Ben Amarfio had joined Cricket Australia. It is believed he was involved in negotiations of the new deal.