Opinion: ECBTv’s impact…..
ecb.co.uk recently announced that they are going to be beaming live games from England, first class, ODIs and Tests, into Africa, Central America, South America, Mainland Europe and Japan. This seems to be great news. These territories are not covered by any existing TV Rights deal with ECB.
It goes without saying that having cricket playing on tv will give you the most number of people interested in playing and watching the game in that country, and in the shortest possible time. The problem is that there needed to be a sizeable market before television could come in, and as soon as the market became sizeable, the TV rights deals came in making it pay per view for the users, which essentially milks the existing fans and hampers the development of new fans to the game.
The only thing is….. this is not TV. I mean, its a free stream on the internet, but its not on TV. So it will have to be seen how much of an impact it will have in the cricket developing regions. Its not going to happen that a guy flips through the channels and watches a cricket match when nothing else that interests him is going on. But this is great for markets where people would like to watch games, but are unable to because its not going to be shown on TV. Also, in most of these countries, English commentary is a problem, but thats a situation that you will encounter anyway. So I dont know what exact impact the free broadband coverage to these territories is going to have. Plus hopefully it is free to these territories, I am just assuming because there is no mention of a cost on the ECB website. The other thing is to take the number of internet connections into account. Japan will have less people interested in watching the games, but they still may have more people connected than Uganda, because Uganda does not have many internet users in the first place. Plus timing also matters. The maximum advantage of this ECBtv will be taken by the mainland Europe countries, and perhaps Japan.
So it may not help much at all like TV does, but it may as well. Its a tough call. We will have to wait and see what happens. Perhaps ECB should also give free TV feeds for the takers in all these new territories as well. There may not be many takers, but those who do, it will be a dramatic change in their cricket playing habits.