Proposed NV Play streaming charge for recreational clubs pushed back a year

Plans to introduce £500 licence fee weeks before the start of the season had caused outcry

A recreational match being played in Camberley, London, August 20, 2020

Clubs will not now be charged to use NV Play's streaming service in 2022  •  PA Images via Getty Images

A groundswell of discontent among recreational cricket clubs in the UK has been averted - for 12 months at least - by the decision of streaming service NV Play to withdraw a planned £500 charge to use its software this season.
NV Play, which has a formal partnership with the ECB, had last week surprised subscribers to its Play-Cricket Scorer Pro software by announcing that the £500 licence would be required for continued use. The website currently advertises PCS Pro as a "free, not-for-profit platform you can trust".
Many clubs had looked to take advantage of the rise in livestreaming technology by purchasing equipment to combine footage and live scoring online. But the introduction of an annual fee, less than a couple of months before the start of the English season, had sparked a backlash.
As a result, following discussions with the ECB, NV Play has agreed to defer the planned charge until next year.
"This announcement [of a proposed licensing fee] raised questions in some quarters of the recreational cricket community," the company said in a statement. "We have been listening, and have spoken to many in the community over the past week.
"We have good news. After positive discussions with our long time partners at the ECB, it has been decided to defer the introduction of fees until the 2023 season.
"We trust that this extra season of no cost streaming gives clubs a chance to build their streaming audiences and potentially develop new sponsorship opportunities as the value of your streaming content grows."
The issue is likely to raise its head next year, however, with many recreational clubs existing on tight budgets and concerns that such a significant annual charge - for a product that was previously free to use - will make streaming games a non-starter. Despite the ECB's involvement on this occasion, it has made clear that clubs will have to bear the costs in future.
An ECB spokesperson said: "We are pleased that after discussions with NV Play, recreational clubs that use its service to live stream their matches will not be required to pay the proposed licensing fee this summer.
"We recognise that some clubs have spent considerable time and money on digital equipment. The service offered by NV Play is not an ECB product, and while we recognise that companies need to cover their costs and fund ongoing customer support, we believe it is important that clubs are given sufficient notice of any proposed changes to enable them to make plans or secure funding."