The Australian cricket team aren't the only ones to have a below par T20 World Cup. Free-to-air broadcaster Channel Nine has admitted it had to soften revenue targets leading into the event because of delays in securing the rights deal.
Nine only managed to secure telecast rights at the 11th hour because Indian host broadcaster Star India was holding out for a deal that would encompass several ICC tournaments over a number of years.
Eventually a deal was struck with Nine showing games involving Australia and the finals, and Foxtel broadcasting all 35 games and the Women's T20 World Cup, in which Australia is favoured to win.
The delay, combined with a couple of games starting in the wee hours of the morning, made the task of commercialising the tournament a challenge.
Ratings for two of Australia's group games that began at 8pm were solid, with the opening fixture against New Zealand drawing a national average audience of 592,000. Last Friday's game against Pakistan, which competed with the NRL in Sydney and Brisbane, attracted an impressive national audience of 543,000.
Games that began at 1am were less popular. The Bangladesh encounter pulled a national average of 88,000 and the do-or-die encounter with India on Monday drew an audience of 177,000.
Speaking to AdNews prior to the start of the tournament, Nine Network sports sales director Sam Brennan explained that writing revenue into Nine's coverage at such a late stage would prove challenging, and the broadcaster hoped for a "marginal uplift" at best.
“This late in the piece we have smaller expectations to commercialise it at such short notice,” he said.
“A lot of our advertising leading into the tournament had already been booked up ... so when the cricket gets formatted into where general programming was you are generally going to just replace the program and the ads will run in a different program.”
Normally, the lead in period for a major event like a cricket world cup would be six months to a year rather than the week or so Nine had to work with on this occasion.
But Brennan points out that showing the event was important for Nine to maintain its position as the free-to-air home of Australian cricket.
England beat New Zealand in the first semi-final early this morning. Coverage of the second semi-final between India and the West Indies is on Nine at midnight tonight.
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