Sky New Zealand has secured the live TV rights to cricket’s upcoming ICC World Twenty20 in India.
The pay-TV service has agreed a sub-licensing deal with Indian broadcaster Star Sports, which holds the global rights to International Cricket Council (ICC) events until 2023, to show every game of the men's event in March and April as well as selected games in the women's competition.
No financial terms were released. There had been reports in Australian newspaper The Age that, with the tournament a matter of weeks away, there had been 'an impasse in negotiations' with a local TV blackout a possibility. Sky New Zealand moved to assuage those fears before confirming the deal.
However, there remains no deal in Australia, where negotiations have been complicated by the tournament's presence on the country's 'anti-siphoning' list designed to protect major events for free-to-air coverage. That legislation allows pay-TV broadcasters to enter negotiations if no deal has been reached within 12 weeks of an event but the fee sought by Star Sports, according to The Age, has put off potential bidders.
Should an Australian free-to-air network pick up the rights, it will be required under national law to show all Australia matches and the final on its primary channel, necessitating a late shift in programming that has also reportedly caused hesitation. Free-to-air channel Nine Network and pay-TV broadcaster Fox Sports shared the domestic TV rights to ICC tournaments up until last year's Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, after which a new rights cycle began.
The last-minute nature of the local organising committee's preparations for the tournament have drawn criticism, with the first phase of ticket sales only having been launched by ticketing agency BookMyShow this week, and Delhi's status as one of the eight host cities in doubt throughout February.
New Zealand will begin their World T20 campaign against the hosts in Nagpur on 15th March, in the opening game of the Super 10 stage. Eight of the 16 teams involved in the competition will enter in the first round, which begins with Hong Kong's game against Zimbabwe, also in Nagpur, on 8th March.