Dubai: ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) has secured the 10-year commercial rights for the Champions League Twenty20.
The deal gives ESS exclusive global commercial rights for all the matches in the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 season, due to be held from 3 December to 10 December 2008, and for all further Champions League Twenty20 seasons until 2017.
ESS bid of $975 million for the rights, making the Champions League Twenty20 the highest value cricket tournament on a per game basis.
Bids had also been received from the Abu Dhabi Sports Club and DIC. While DIC's bid was $751.3 million, Abu Dhabi Sports Club's bid was disqualified for being conditional.
Lalit Modi, chairman and commissioner, Indian Premier League said, "We are absolutely delighted that after a fair and transparent process, 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. All the bids received were of a very high standard and we would like to thank all of the organisations that participated and for their submissions."
Manu Sawhney, managing director, ESPN STAR Sports said, "We're extremely pleased at having won the Global Commercial Rights to the new and exciting Champions League Twenty20. Through our television channels - ESPN, STAR Sports & STAR Cricket, our website, and our wireless platforms mobileESPN and STAR Sports Mobile, we are confident of taking the Champions League Twenty20 to new heights by working along with the various partners involved and are committed to setting new benchmarks in the broadcast and distribution, such that fans of this crowd-pulling format can look forward to an exciting time when the league begins this December."
The three founding member boards had already announced the dates for the inaugural edition of the 2008 Champions League Twenty20 from 3 – 10 December, 2008.
Eight teams, consisting of the reigning winners and runners-up from the domestic Twenty20 competitions in India, Australia and South Africa, plus the winners of 2008 Twenty20 championships (to be held in October 2008) from Pakistan, and the reigning Twenty20 Cup champion from England, Middlesex, have been invited to contest the 2008 Champions League Twenty20.
The tournament will be contested by 12 teams in year two between 25 September and 10 October, 2009. The prize money of $6 million will be shared between the teams and their players.
Media observers concerned
Media observers are wary of the impact this acquisition cost would have on the overall media environment for the Champions League Twenty20. They says that a number of T20 matches lined up might take away the advertisers' focus from the test matches and ODIs, saying too much of a good thing is also detrimental.
Media observers view T20 cricket as a format hit other forms of cricket, such as test matches and one-day internationals (ODIs).
Sources are concerned that ESS has paid much higher than Sony, and that will drive up not just the cricket rates, but also the overall advertising rates. That in turn would put immense pressure on existing rights owners of the various test series and one-day match owners, who in turn would channelise this pressure onto organisers to convert these series also into T20.
Another potential impact is that the T20 would affect other genres. As was evident from the T20 World Cup and IPL's first season, the T20 games ate into viewership shares of other genres, including news and Hindi general entertainment channels.
Media observers expect similar trends in December 2008 as well. Most of them believe that there is ''too much T20''.