YouTube to stream live IPL cricket

Deal could serve new markets, negate TV complaints

SYDNEY -- Sports broadcasting is set to be revolutionized if a new deal announced Wednesday between India’s Board of Control of Cricket and Google Inc. for the live broadcast of the upcoming Indian Premier League tournament on video sharing site You Tube is successful. 

“Today Google, owner of YouTube, announced a deal with the Indian Premier League to offer live and on-demand access to the tournament’s 60 matches. The deal marks the first time a major sporting event will be streamed live on YouTube. From March 12, cricket fans around the world will have front row seats to the Indian Premier League through the IPL YouTube channel, streamed live everywhere, except from USA where catch-up matches will be available," the partners said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Under the two-year deal online and mobile advertising and sponsorship revenues of the IPL, which is cricket’s biggest money spinner and the most popular version of the game in India, will be split between the league and Google. 

The deal is outside the 10-year, US$1.02 billion global TV rights deal for the IPL that the BCCI signed with a consortium made up of India's Sony Entertainment Television network and Singapore-based World Sport Group in 2008. 

IPL commissioner Lalit Modi told the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that "Television broadcasting still remains a massive focus for us all but this offers us tremendous potential for the future. Google has never done this before. This is a first for the whole of sport."

The deal would appear to benefit the IPL in markets such as the U.K. where there is no broadcaster signed for IPL matches but where cricket is a hugely popular sport, while it has the potential to undercut audiences for TV broadcasts in other markets such as Australia, New Zealand and in the Middle East, where there are existing TV deals. 

As well as live streaming of IPL matches, the YouTube channel will show special on-demand content including match highlights, player interviews, wickets of the match, top sixes and pitch reports. YouTube viewers will also be able to choose between different camera angles, freeze, fast-forward and rewind the feed, and watch replays at any time during the day. 

In Australia, Network Ten owns the rights to the IPL and broadcasts it live on its digital sports channel, One. Ten acquired the rights for five years in 2008 in a deal reportedly worth around $12 million. 

A spokeswoman for Ten said Wednesday the YouTube deal would not affect One’s live broadcasts of the tournament. 

The deal however comes as the Australian government is conducting a review on sports broadcasting and its anti-siphoning list, looking at which sports should be protected for free to air TV audiences. Online sports rights are being considered as part of the review.  

A deal like the Google-IPL tie up with online live streaming of a sport as popular as cricket would negate any arguments by both the free to air and the pay  TV sectors for protection of sports.
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