Australia news

Ashes summer on commercial radio

Daniel Brettig

October 4, 2013

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Ryan Harris celebrates the dismissal of Joe Root with his team-mates, England v Australia, 4th Investec Ashes Test, 3rd day, Chester-le-Street, August 11, 2013
The 2013-14 Ashes will be on commercial radio, as well as the ABC, in Australia © Getty Images
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Australian cricket's concerted shift towards commercial radio coverage has been accompanied by a warning from the ABC chief executive Mark Scott, that the national broadcaster should not be "taken for granted" after losing exclusive rights to broadcast the game.

Advanced negotiations for radio rights over the forthcoming summer are expected to result in the Ashes Tests being broadcast on Fairfax Radio's commercial networks, including 2UE in Sydney and 3AW in Melbourne, in addition to the ABC's Grandstand coverage. Rights to the Twenty20 Big Bash League are set to go to Southern Cross/Austereo's Triple M, the former employer of Cricket Australia's executive general manager for marketing, digital media and communications Ben Amarfio, while 3AW and SEN may also cover matches.

However, any radio coverage of the Sheffield Shield is in grave doubt due to an impasse between the ABC and CA. The national broadcaster is understood to have been asked to pay an additional fee for the rights to commentate on domestic matches, at the same time the Nine Network has had its outside broadcast costs paid for by CA in order to provide television coverage of the Ryobi Cup in Sydney this month. The ABC now appears likely to fill that gap in its coverage with other sports.

Audio streaming has also been a point of contention, with the ABC upset to have lost the rights to stream their own coverage. This audio will instead be offered exclusively through CA's own mobile, online and tablet apps, to be released closer to the start of the Ashes.

"I don't want Cricket Australia to take us for granted, just because we've been doing it for decades, I don't want it taken for granted," Scott told ABC Radio on Friday. "We're very disappointed, frankly, that CA won't let the ABC stream the cricket Tests on ABC websites. Some of the other sporting codes are doing it and I think that's disappointing.

"CA should also be aware there are many other sports who are knocking on our door, desperate to get coverage through ABC Grandstand. We'll be making some announcements around that in coming weeks. Grandstand will still be the home of sport in summer, and will still be the home of Test cricket."

Scott called into question the chances of commercial radio broadcasters showing any interest in cricket coverage outside high profile series such as the Ashes. The ABC's radio coverage has been exclusive since 2001, but in earlier years commercial broadcasters often covered individual matches of high audience interest such as Melbourne's Boxing Day Test.

"Commercial networks might want to pick it up, it's an Ashes summer, but our audiences know that when Pakistan and New Zealand are touring, we'll be there as well. We're not just going to cherry pick the big tours, we're there for the long haul," Scott said. "I'll be very interested if there's a viable commercial market for Test cricket with the ABC with our commentary commercial free, with our expertise on air.

"Cricket is the sound of summer on the ABC in Australia, and I think even if it's on a commercial broadcaster our audiences know we love cricket, we've been doing it for decades, we have outstanding commentators and that we'll be the place to go."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by punterdgr8 on (October 7, 2013, 7:09 GMT)

@praspunter,it's available only 4 aussie viewers.i even set my vpn to aus but didn't work.god,wat's wrong with ca!!we get 2 c the live coverage of yb40,fl20 here in india but nothing of aus domestic season hitherto there was atleast the coverage of ryobi.last year fox streamed the shield;wud get up at 5am to watch punter bat b4 the saf series but ever since he retired aus is sliding with coeff of sliding friction =0 and ca's hell bent in imparting that momentous force.

Posted by alstar2281 on (October 6, 2013, 7:09 GMT)

I prefer to listen to the ABC's intelligent & educated coverage of the cricket over watching it on TV. Their knowledge of the game is superior to the so called experts dished up to us on tv who only seem to be able to bore us to death with clich├ęs and sticking up for the marketing departments golden children. If cricket disappears off the ABC it will be yet another sad day for Australian Cricket under the current CA administration.

Posted by Tongariro on (October 6, 2013, 2:13 GMT)

CA are not interested in promoting cricket, nor interestested in the 'traditions'. All they are interested in is securing more money (for what). Who wants to hear endless adds while listening to the cricket on commercial radio...all you will get is pently of frustration.

Posted by   on (October 5, 2013, 13:27 GMT)

I am really glad to see a number of other people who agree with the notion that ABC grandstand is the premier cricket commentary station. I hope CA realise that if the average listener has the option of listening to ABC with no ads or listening to 2UE or Triple M with an ad every 5 minutes and an ad for every scorecard announcement (listen to Triple M rugby league commentary); I am sure 95% would listen to the ABC

Posted by Blokker on (October 5, 2013, 8:09 GMT)

Why would you listen to Test Cricket on commercial radio with ads every five minutes? If the cricket is siphoned away from the ABC, it'll be a huge step towards the death of the game. CA have no clue.

Posted by MrKricket on (October 5, 2013, 7:34 GMT)

Anyone remember cricket on 2GB or 2UE (Sydney) - can't remember which station - during World Series Cricket? I vaguely recall Blowers may have been involved. Anyway the standard of commentary was not great and included such pearlers as "It's either six or four... and he's out!"

Posted by Rowayton on (October 5, 2013, 6:31 GMT)

I think Biggus nailed it. CA seem obsessed with promoting cricket to people who don't like cricket. Such an approach strikes me frankly as nuts. Surely no business will succeed if it can't keep most of its current customers happy first.

Posted by suparat on (October 5, 2013, 4:53 GMT)

I feel rights to cover plum matches, like ashes, should be tied to broadcasting all 1st class matches for the summer. For TV then 9 could put the shield & ryobi cup on a secondary channel, at least it would be broadcast. If matches clash then cover one & update the other.

Posted by   on (October 5, 2013, 3:21 GMT)

I would be upset by this. I have always been a loyal ABC Cricket radio listener. Thanks Cricket Australia. Gee they must be getting broke, Cricket Australia, going for commercial radio. NO WAY I'll be listening to cricket on commercial radio.

Posted by   on (October 4, 2013, 23:52 GMT)

I don't think Grandstand is at risk of losing its support base. People would listen to it even more if it were in sync with the tv. I reckon abc radio should delay their broadcast by a few seconds outside the host city. Also, if James Sutherland and Pat Howard aren't careful, people will start comparing them with the BCCI as administrators who put commerce ahead of cricket. I realize the two are not mutually exclusive, but there has to be a better balance than the status quo.

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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