The opportunity to watch international cricket was the second highest priority for member states, according to the latest ICC survey
Broadcast access to broadcast live tournament cricket in countries far from the beaten track of full member states used to be a major barrier to the ability to develop the sport. But that could be a thing of the past now, as the ICC announced on Wednesday an important agreement with IMG that will roll out web streaming shows for more than 500 ICC global pathway events at the male and female level by 2023.
These include regional qualifiers from each of the five associated regions – Africa, America, Asia, Europe and East Asia-Pacific – for the next T20 World Championships for men and women in 2022 and 2023, respectively, as well as the ODI for men with seven League Two teams and Challenge Leagues will be used as qualifiers for the 2023 Men’s World Cup.
“The aim of the program is to respond to a request not only from fans around the world but also from members,” said Will Glenwright, ICC director of global development, to ESPNcricinfo in a telephone interview following the ICC’s announcement on Wednesday. “We are conducting an annual survey of the members whose 2020 version we have just completed and seeing international cricket on TV has been the second top priority they have told us. Growing awareness of the game in the eyes of members is the biggest stumbling block to the growth and development of the sport.
“So this is a direct response to our members’ request and absolutely an awareness-raising motive and not a profit or revenue-driven motive. While it is a good financial result for the ICC, it is primarily about the need to get more international cricket bring more cricket to associate members to fans around the world. “
For the past decade, traditionally strong Associate members like Nepal have consistently achieved impressive viewership thanks to the broadcast of events coordinated by local media houses. However, the demand for access has continued to expand in recent years, with the T20 regional men’s qualifiers streamed over the internet in the summer of 2019 from locations such as Guernsey, Malaysia and Bermuda.
Will Glenwright (left) and former Cricket Scotland Chairman Tony Brian watch the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifying Final Peter Della Penna
The appetite for associate content had grown exponentially lately. According to an ICC press release in February 2020, digital views of clips from various regional pathway events amounted to more than 128 million. This culminated in the UAE Men’s 2019 T20 World Cup qualifying, which set a record for digital consumption with an additional 80 million views of digital clips on various ICC social media and web platforms during the three-week tournament, though Neither was the case. Nepal and Afghanistan – another major traffic driver prior to its test status – took part in the final qualifying tournament. There was ample evidence that greater efforts needed to be coordinated to increase the ICC’s broadcasting footprint.
“We know that the quality of cricket has improved from a high performance standpoint, and we know that the context of the Pathway events makes it a compelling view,” said Glenwright. “In addition to the demand we have received from our members, the fact that a lack of awareness of the game is one of the major obstacles to the growth of the game for our associate members indicated that we should look into this properly.
“I think it’s part of the digital evolution we’re going through as an organization. The increased skill we brought to our team to make this happen has resulted in the first time we were able to pay attention to It deserves to direct resources in the right direction and the result, as we announced today, is a groundbreaking partnership with a reputable organization that will deliver over 500 associate member cricket games to the world. “
In the past, regional ICC events were broadcast on an ad hoc basis, which often depends on the existing infrastructure and the ability of the host countries to enable broadcasting. According to the new transmission arrangement, this should now be a thing of the past.
“These events were sporadic and often depended on the skill of the host,” said Glenwright. “One of the criticisms we received from members was that our minimum standards may have been too arrogant, making it difficult for members to deliver and stream these events. We wanted to overcome that by using them under these standards standardized agreement with IMG. “
… we know that the context of the pathway events makes for a convincing view
Perhaps the most important part of this deal is that, as a result of the new deal, the ICC announces that for the first time, more than 50 countries will appear on global broadcasts. This includes several women’s teams in countries that currently don’t have a men’s team that is competitive enough to participate in the relevant regional qualification path for a T20 World Cup, such as the Brazil Women, who announced central contracts for 14 cadre members in January 2020 Offering these web streams offers new financial opportunities for many other countries in the same way.
“We’re not taking this lightly at all,” said Glenwright. “It opens up all sorts of opportunities for members, not just from a performance point of view, but also from the point of view of advertising and fan engagement. When setting the minimum standards, we recognized the need to ensure all of this.” Events can be streamed just as easily by our smaller members as they are by our more established members who are more experienced in streaming and broadcasting their events.
“Our constituencies and other sports have done some really innovative things, especially during the pandemic of broadcasting and streaming, as well as content for fans around the world. The European Cricket League has been brilliant from a cricket standpoint and from initiatives like Finland, Japan and some of our smaller members to stream their cricket have encouraged, motivated us, but rather strengthened our determination as an organization to provide this visibility to all 92 of our associate members. This is as important to our smaller members as it is to our members larger members. As an international association, we feel obliged to make this possible, and that’s what drove us. “
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfos USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna