Champions Twenty20 League September 11, 2008

Champions League rights sell for $900 million

Cricinfo staff

Top Curve
The rising graph of TV rights
  • 1976: The Australian Cricket Board signs a A$210,000 three-year deal with Australian Broadcasting Corporation, turning down Kerry Packer's offer of A$1.5m and unwittingly setting in motion the era of big-money TV deals.
  • 1994: BCCI inks a ground-breaking five-year deal with Trans-World International estimated at US$35m to end Doordarshan's monopoly over cricket telecast rights in India.
  • 1998: Channel 4 becomes the prinicipal broadcaster of England's home Test matches - the preserve of the BBC since 1938 - after paying £103m.
  • 2002: Sony sign a five-year deal with the ICC worth more than US$200 million for rights to two World Cups and other ICC events.
  • 2004: BSkyB and Channel Five pay £220m for telecasting England's home matches for four years starting 2006 - for the first time, live cricket coverage comes off terrestrial television and goes on satellite.
  • 2006: Nimbus win the telecast rights to Indian cricket for four years after bidding US $612 million.
  • 2006: The billion-dollar mark is breached: ESPN-Star shell out US$1.1 billion for a nine-year deal with the ICC.
  • 2008: Sony-World Sports Group pay $1.03 billion to secure the rights to the Indian Premier League for ten years.
  • 2008: ESPN-Star pays $900 million for the Champions League, making it the highest valued cricket tournament on a per-game basis.
Bottom Curve

The status of Twenty20 cricket as the sport's most lucrative avatar has been confirmed with commercial rights to the Champions League being sold for US$900 million to broadcasters ESPN-Star Sports (ESS). This makes the Champions League, promoted by the national boards of India, Australia and South Africa, the highest valued cricket tournament on a per-game basis.

The ten-year deal, which includes an additional $75 million for marketing the tournament, gives the network the global commercial rights to every Champions League match from this year's inaugural event in December until 2017.

The organisers confirmed the deal when they opened all the bids in Dubai on Wednesday. ESS was preferred ahead of DIC, who offered $751.3 million, and the Abu Dhabi Sports Club, whose bid was disqualified for being conditional.

The deal marks ESS's entry into the specialized Twenty20 market; it had lost out on the bid for the Indian Premier League after what seemed like a miscalculation on its part. The IPL rights were eventually sold to a consortium, including Sony Entertainment Television and the Singapore-based World Sports Group, for more than $1 billion. It had seemed like an outrageous price to pay at the time; now, after the overwhelming success of the inaugural IPL, it seems a steal.

ESS are the ICC's television rights holder until 2015 - they acquired the rights in 2006 for $1.1 billion over nine years - but the postponement of the Champions Trophy, originally due to start in Pakistan tomorrow, left them facing a long spell without a major series.

Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, said the bidding process had been "fair and transparent". "We have what we believe to be the best commercial deal for the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 season and for cricket fans across the world," Modi said. "All the bids received were of a very high standard."

Modi told Cricinfo that Mumbai and Bangalore were the new "confirmed venues" for the 2008 series, while a suitable third venue will be finalised in the "next 2-3 days". The organisers had previously scheduled the tournament in Mohali, Delhi and Jaipur, but Modi said the venues had to be changed taking into consideration the dew factor that may affect the night games in northern India during winter months.

The Champions League this year will feature eight sides from India, South Africa, Australia, England and Pakistan, before expanding to a 12-team competition in 2009.

Note: ESPN-Star Sports is a joint venture between ESPN and Star; Cricinfo is wholly owned by ESPN.