Cricket: IPL goes global with live online deal

By Ben Bloom

youtube

A deal between the Indian Premier League and Google will see this year’s tournament, starting on March 12, shown live on YouTube.

While IPL chairman Lalit Modi this week watched his teams’ superstar owners further strain relations with neighbouring Pakistan, he continued his quest to achieve global domination with this latest announcement.

Under the agreement, Google has exclusive online rights for two years while revenues from advertising and sponsorship will be split between the two organisations.

The deal, which will see YouTube create a channel dedicated to live coverage of the IPL’s 60 matches, covers every country except the US, bringing the tournament to a truly worldwide audience.

Shailesh Rao, Google India’s managing director, said: “We are thrilled to have the IPL as our global partner and bring to the YouTube community around the world and here in India an interactive, unique experience building greater awareness around the world for the sport.”

The move online clearly fits in with Modi’s global vision for the IPL, having last week revealed plans to stage matches in the US over the next 18 months.

“Distribution is key for any property,” he said. “While last year, IPL’s stint at South Africa made it achieve the status of a global event, through this deal with Google we can now take this event to the global audience.”

While the deal gives the opportunity for more people to access the IPL, it throws new uncertainty over British television rights for the event which remain unsold after the collapse of Setanta. A spokesman for the League moved to suppress doubt though saying he is hopeful of a TV deal being reached to cater for the dedicated television audience.

However, the ramifications of the IPL’s deal with Google may transcend the game of cricket with wider implications for the whole world of sport.

A joint statement from the IPL and Google stated: “This is the first time Google is live streaming for a major global sport on YouTube.”

Indeed this may signal a new era in sport viewing.

Many football fans will remember the controversial decision to screen England’s World Cup football qualifier against Ukraine online, the cost to watch that match was up to £11.99.

Although no decision on pricing has yet been announced, it is likely that YouTube’s IPL coverage will be free to viewers around the world.

Is this a sign of things to come in other sports? The Internet far surpasses any television network’s global reach and the fact that such sporting events can be offered at no charge to the viewer will surely encourage more fans to watch.

With the financial power of Google, it seems a distinct possibility that this may be a vision of what lies ahead.

What is certain is that Modi’s IPL circus keeps snowballing its way towards a global brand.

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