Monday, October 02, 2006

Who makes money from Cricket?

It is fairly well-known that India accounts for close to 70% of the total cricket market. Thanks to BCCI's recent much-publicised broadcasting deals, it is also fairly well-known that the Indian board is the richest among all cricket boards. Yet, what is not so well-known is that this huge Indian market for cricket, apart from enriching BCCI, also sustains many of the cricket boards world-wide. That is because of the system cricket follows where the hosts own all rights for the series they organize. So when India goes and plays a series abroad, it is those foreign boards who make money from the Indian market. We play a series in Pakistan and PCB makes a cool $150 million from Indian market. We play in Windies and WICB hits a jackpot. We play the world cup or a Champions Trophy and it is the ICC which makes mega bucks out of those events. So much so that, most of the boards, like Windies, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, etc are surviving mostly on the money they make by hosting India or from the handouts from ICC.

Sometimes, the consequences of such a system goes beyond financial. PCB for example, has awarded the rights to matches held in Pakistan to Dubai-based Ten Sports channel, owned by Sheikh Abdul Rahman Bukhatir. Now, Bukhatir is apparently still close to Dawood Ibrahim and played a key role in Dawood's daughter's wedding. Which means, every time we play in Pakistan and millions of Indians tune into watch the match, it is quite possible that we are contributing to the coffers of India's most wanted terrorist.

Good thing is, there is a simple solution to solve this problem. All that needs to be done is, instead of having the hosts own all the rights, let each board have the telecast rights for its territory irrespective of where the match is being played. So BCCI owns the rights for Indian territory, irrespective of whether it is a home series or away series or world cup. Similarly, ECB for UK territory, CA for Australia, PCB for Pakistan and so on. Let the ICC own the rights for all neutral territories like USA, Far east etc. That way, every board makes money from the market they have created, rather than freeloading off others' markets. Sure, that could lead to some of the boards like Windies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka going bankrupt, but so be it. If there isn't enough market there for cricket to survive, there is no point in sustaining those boards artificially. There is enough demand for cricket in India, Pakistan, Australia and England and let cricket cater to that market well. If you think four teams aren't enough to have a decent league, then create multiple teams within India. As it is we have enough diversity based on region/language etc that we can create a good rivalry between these teams. Let these regional teams also import players from outside to strengthen the team initially, while we develop strong teams. So a league of eight teams, say South/North/West/East India, Pakistan, Australia, England and Africa will make for terrific cricket. The markets will also be pretty evenly balanced, so you won't have the current situation where India accounts for 70% of the market. Allow for movement of players from team to team, so that the players can also earn their true market value. As it is, in the current system, the players can only play for one team, which means they are the bonded labourers of their respective board. A few can make money from advertising, but those who can't have to live on the pittance that the board pays them. If you allow for movement of players, they will also be more competitive and that makes for good cricket.


venkat said...

For all the money ICC makes out of Indian public, ICC mgmt committee has few representatives from india or a asian country.
It's mostly run by 40 something white folks who live on dole met out by indian public. It is unbelievable BCCI couldn't even make ICC to make it look more diversed. Hope you checked my other blog on the fabric of ICC's Mgmt committee

Silkboard said...

High time we had a commercial domestic Cricket league! Lets make all this money flow within our own country. And let us get to watch 1 good match every evening after we reach home, MLB types.

Notes after Sialkot vs UP Match

Earlier rant on the same (BCCI vs MLB)