There is money to be made during COVID-19

Editorial

There is money to be made during COVID-19

Saturday, July 25, 2020

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As expected, the T20 Cricket World Cup originally scheduled for later this year has been postponed because of COVID-19.

Despite the obvious attractiveness of television revenues, hosts Australia and organisers, the International Cricket Council (ICC), were not prepared for the logistical “nightmare” required to host 16 international teams under the COVID-19 pandemic protocols.

Regardless, the decision has created space for the even richer Indian Premier League (IPL) which, we are told, will take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), pending final approval by India's Government.

We expect that like the current Test series between England and the West Indies in England, the IPL will be without spectators at the grounds, with television taking games to cricket-watching homes around the world.

The importance of the IPL to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the globe's richest and most influential cricket board, is considerable. Reports suggest that the BCCI earns in excess of US$300 million annually from the IPL.

Such earnings explain the decision to stage the universally popular Twenty20 cricket festival despite the devastating impact of the pandemic in India.

The UAE, which has grown used to hosting international cricket in recent years — accommodating Pakistan regularly because of the threat of terrorism in that country — became an obvious venue.

Apparently, relatively relaxed quarantine rules in the UAE may also have attracted IPL organisers.

With TV cricket audiences in India and the wider subcontinent amounting to hundreds of millions and given the constraints imposed by COVID-19, we can be sure there will be record numbers watching the IPL later this year.

Of course, all being well, the world's top cricketers, including several West Indians, will be looking to entertain and earn in cricket's top franchise tournament.

We are told that the IPL is likely to be followed by another 'monster' television earner, a Test Series hosted by Australia against India.

We mustn't forget that in September the Caribbean Premier League is set for Trinidad and Tobago. Again, it will be reliant on TV, without spectators at grounds.

Before that, immediately after the current trip by the West Indies ends early next week, Pakistan will be on tour of England with similar bio-secure, TV-only arrangements in place.

We hear that after the Pakistan trip there may even be a short, limited-overs tour of England by Australia, with similar protocols.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are reportedly in talks for a previously postponed three-Test series to be held, possibly in October.

There is talk of another postponed series — West Indies vs South Africa — being scheduled, somewhere over the next few months. And, there are whispers that England may come to the Caribbean as early as year-end.

As is the case in every aspect of life, COVID-19 is creating havoc in cricket and the wider sport and entertainment sector. But thanks to television, the potential for profit remains significant and impossible to ignore.


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