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January 26, 2012

The Internet

An open letter to Giles Clarke

Samir Chopra
A grim Giles Clarke faces the media, Barbados, February 24, 2009
The internet should be welcomed, not criticised, for all the possibilities it presents to expand cricket's fan base  © Getty Images
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Dear Mr. Giles Clarke,

Well done. With your statement that Internet piracy is the "biggest danger to cricket" you have pulled off a rather wonderful trifecta: you join the ranks of those politicians and industrialists that persist in misunderstanding and fear-mongering about the Internet; you divert attention from far bigger dangers to cricket, including its relentless commercialisation, in which you have paid a notable part; and lastly, you show that when it comes to myopia, and sheer bloody-minded head-in-the-sandedness, there is nothing quite on Planet Earth, it seems, like a cricket administrator.

The curse of 'intellectual property' discourse already threatens to strangle creativity and innovation in an era, when, thanks to the technical affordances made possible by the 'Net, a chance is at hand to reconfigure the political economy of the world of art and cultural production. Those that are economically entrenched in this sphere, like the music, motion picture and software industries, will of course, fight these changes tooth and nail. But do we have to fall for their propagandistic nonsense? Only if our paypacket depends on subscribing to outmoded, monopoly-preserving doctrines.

A smarter option would be to figure out how cricket could prosper and flourish by utilising, to its advantage, the possibilities made visible by the brave new world of the 'Net and its associated methods of digital production and distribution. Let fans put up cricket videos of catches and favourite players on YouTube; don't send them cease-and-desist letters from overpaid corporate lawyers; ask for television-rights holders to make available highlights packages on streaming video; work to make sure television rights deals don't include onerous territory restrictions (I cannot watch the Pakistan-England Tests because the telecast, controlled by a monopolistic provider in the US, is only available in Canada.)

You want more fans? Spread the game to them, keep it visible. If the music industry, which has done its best to provide a passable imitation of a lumbering dinosaur, can make a start with on-demand-in-the-cloud-streaming services, then why can't cricket change its ways?

In this endeavor, Mr. Clarke, when you consider strategies for cricket's future, you might want to lend your ear to fans, not just large corporations. Those fans, remember, are the ones that will watch your telecasts. Get the game to them, in high-quality DRM-free streaming video if possible, and let them share it among themselves so that the game can remain their 'property'. You won't lose too much money; you'll create new fans; and you'll hold on to your older ones.

If you want to fight a fight, fight to ensure that the gigantic archives of cricket video footage, currently sitting and gathering dust in some vault somewhere, are released and licensed at not-onerous fees so that more fans can see them. Fight on the behalf of documentary-makers so that cricket's history can be highlighted. Give up this silly parroting of media corporation press releases.

Come out of the Cave, Mr. Clarke. The bright light won't hurt, and once you've figured how much better things are out here, you might want to go back down and fetch your fellow prisoners.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

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Keywords: Internet

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by rizwan on (March 29, 2012, 23:27 GMT)

Why should anyone pay to watch cricket on TV ? In earlier times all national channels ( BBC , DOORDHARSHAN , RUPAVAHINI ) used to telecast the cricket matches free .

Posted by Patrick Clarke on (February 5, 2012, 21:41 GMT)

Clarke is a useless buffoon who I witnessed at first-hand holding up a Test Match at the Rosebowl twice in the same over after lunch by walking about on a balcony above the pavilion sightscreen. A close look at him shows everything that's wrong with cricket administration.

Posted by PradeepKumaar on (January 29, 2012, 18:57 GMT)

Agree

Posted by Anonymous on (January 28, 2012, 20:19 GMT)

My parents were not cricket lovers, by I grew up to be one. Infact, I used to watch almost every match, even if it was Zimbabwe playing against Kenya, when I was a child - as much as I could - such was my enthusiasm for the game. That was ONLY because it came free on TV, otherwise I would not have even known cricket's passion since I was a child and my parents would never have paid to watch cricket anyway as they were disinterested. Infact it is these paid subscriptions that drive people to move over and watch free live streaming on the internet. I mean, who would watch cricket online in low quality if it is coming on TV? Over here in Canada - to subscribe to world cup matches - you needed to pay $300 dollars to the cable providers for the channel which broadcasted the world cup. Not everyone can afford that amount of money if they are only going to watch 10-12 matches live on TV in actuality during the whole tournament. That led a lot of people to move to the internet.

Posted by Neil on (January 28, 2012, 15:55 GMT)

I wish they would pick this story on the televised news media in the UK. The last time it was there was a lot of talk in the UK parliament. However we have had a change in government so no progress for a while.

Posted by Stumped on (January 28, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

Hello Giley, Big Danger to Cricket is England who claim to be number one and cannot play spin. Big Danger truly is not knowing the pulse of majority of cricket followers. Too many boring many and too may matches by every major nation. Some matches are fixed so do not know which one you are watching is fixed and which one is not - How can one pay fortune to Sky who are not that good anyway? I say if you want people to pay for cricket may be stream freely and with advertisers paying for it. Cricket is a national game of England and I say bring it back to BBC. Stop stopping majority of cricket fans not watching free to air cricket - Got it

Posted by Anonymous on (January 28, 2012, 10:28 GMT)

Crickets Biggest Danger is People like Giles Clarke, BCCI and Australian Administrators. Who are very very greedy. Crickets Biggest Danger is Monopoly on streaming. Crickets Biggest Danger is Over Selling and Too many matches. Cricket Biggest Danger is Betting, Spot Fixing and Match Fixing. Crickets Biggest Danger is lemon like you who is not with reality of worlds Income and Outgoings. Crickets Biggest Danger is making everything too expensive. You are a dying breed Clarke and good job you are.

Posted by Steven on (January 28, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

Wonderful Article. Giles You are bought by Government with the title, You are bought by Sky. No wonder you will talk only about your increasing your own pocket and other Capitialists Pocket. Why on earth are you still ECB Chairman? You are incapable and incompetent. You are hung back in Victorian Era. You have not tackled FIXING MATCHES, SPOT FIXING, PAY DISPROPORTIONATELY AND SQUEESING LIFE OUT OF CRICKET BY SELLING ONLY TO PEOPLE WHO CAN AFFORD. What about the majority people who support cricket. How are they supposed to pay when Private Monopolies charge huge sum. Are you Murdoch's Spoon? You have been unable to compete with BCCI with its modern approach. Why should anyone pay money to WATCH CRICKET WHILE MOST OF THEM ARE FIXED ANYWAY - WHY WHY WHY?

Posted by Brat on (January 28, 2012, 3:26 GMT)

Doesnt the BCCI already stream matches in India on their site? Same for the IPL, which used to be on youtube. Strange no mention of these in your article Samir? Dont want to give credit where due now do we? How can we utter good things about the BCCI...

Posted by Anonymous on (January 28, 2012, 3:05 GMT)

very good article. in uk you have to pay 300 pounds a year to watch cricket on sky. while in pakistan all you need is a tv set which can be as cheap as 10 pounds and an antena and you might be able to watch it for your whole life i suppose it will be pretty much the same in india. that is why cricket is flourishing in those countries, in uk most people are turning their back on cricket because of this sky monoply

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samir Chopra
Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He runs the blogs at samirchopra.com and Eye on Cricket. His book on the changing face of modern cricket, Brave New Pitch: The Evolution of Modern Cricket has been published by HarperCollins. Before The Cordon, he blogged on The Pitch and Different Strokes on ESPNcricinfo. @EyeonthePitch

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