Every Indian Premier League match will be broadcast live in Australia after the Ten Network bought the rights for five years. Ten is believed to have paid between $10 million and $15 million to show the games, which begin on April 18.
The deal provides a challenge to Channel Nine, which has dominated cricket broadcasting in Australia for 30 years. "It is the biggest new cricket competition and the most revolutionary thing that's happened in world cricket since Kerry Packer started the World Series in the mid-70s," David White, the Ten Network's general manager of sport, told the Australian.
It was originally anticipated that the IPL Twenty20 matches would be shown on pay television in Australia, if at all, but Ten's decision means every match will be telecast free to air. The station intends to show the games live, with start times from 9.30pm to 1.30am [AEST] followed by repeats on its high-definition digital channel.
Ten has been a long-time broadcaster of motor sports in Australia, and in more recent years Australian rules football, but its lack of cricket experience means it will need to build a commentary team from scratch. Grant Blackley, the network's chief executive, kept his cards close to his chest when asked if he would attempt to poach any of Nine's established callers.
"You shouldn't draw any conclusions at this point," Blackley said. The participation of Australia's current players in this year's tournament is still unclear, with the in-doubt Test tour of Pakistan set to clash with the IPL. However, former stars such as Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and the soon-to-be-retired Adam Gilchrist will take part.