Giles Clarke was a happy man today as the Government announced that future home Ashes series won’t be placed on the ‘Crown Jewels’ list (just yet), meaning it won’t have to be shown on free-to-air TV.
I happen to think it is a right decision of sorts. I don’t see what it gains by telling Sky they can’t cover one series every 4 years, but I also think it is wrong to have no live cricket of any sort on terrestrial TV.
For some reason or another, county cricket desperately needs the Sky money as it would seem to have become totally dependant on it. Now I’m no expert in business, but I would have to imagine it dosen’t make great business sense to become so dependant on one source of income as the ECB and counties have done on Sky.
From what Clarke kept on saying throughout this debate, if county cricket where to lose the Sky investment, it would be ruined. Is this just Clarke spinning it for maximum effect? I don’t know.
But thats another arguement and a question for Clarke to answer, or spin. Which brings me onto my real gripe with the man.
Earlier today on 5 Live radio, when asked about the impact of not having live cricket on terrestrial TV, Clarke claimed that people don’t have the time to watch sport these days, that they just dip in and out of watching it!
What utter rubbish.
He then backed up this pathetic theory by claiming that TV viewing figures of Wimbledon were down 41% this year. Now Clarke isn’t a stupid man, it surely wouldn’t have been lost on him that Wimbledon coincided with the football world cup this year. In what can only be described as a blatent piece of spin he rather conveniently forgot to mention this.
Now I don’t doubt for a minute that cricket would suffer losing this money, but I also don’t doubt that cricket suffers from not being on terrestrial TV.
What I object too, is being spun this rubbish from Clarke. Being continuously told by him that it is the BBC’s fault that cricket isn’t free-to-air any more, how they don’t bother bidding for the rights. Everyone knows the BBC can’t compete with Sky, that they have to justify where licence fee payers money goes.
He also knows damn well that the other terrestrial TV channels can’t compete with Sky either. And that even if they could afford too, none of them could justify paying the money as they couldn’t provide the air time for all the live cricket.
Clarke seems to think that by spinning these stories about the BBC and Wimbledon viewing figures etc, that we will all suddenly believe he is doing the right thing. Does he take us for fools or what? (Don’t answer that)
What I want to hear Clarke saying, is that in agreement with Sky, he is putting together a package for terrestrial TV. One that includes live cricket, whether that includes a bit of domestic T20, an international ODI, or one test match a summer, I don’t know, but there needs to be something.
He needs to strike a balance where he can keep a big pay check coming in from Sky, and give a sample of live cricket to the British public.
I’m not for a minute saying take cricket away from Sky, they do a great job, just give a bit to the majority of the public, the youngsters who are the future of cricket. Ok, losing the total exclusive rights will probably dilute the Sky contract in some way, but losing a generation of youngsters will also influence future contract negotiations when there are no decent players left to watch.
If Clarke was to bother to try offering this, and was then told by the terrestrial channels that they are not interested, then at least he could say he has tried, and he couldn’t be blamed for depriving cricket of it’s next generation of youngsters.