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Google Takes A Whiff At Sponsoring Cricket, Optus Also Approached

Google is starting to crank up their marketing muscle, with the giant online brand looking at the prospect of sponsoring cricket in Australia, the drawback appears to be the recent announcement by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that they are set to investigate the growing power of the tech giants in media and advertising markets

Optus has also shown strong interest in CA’s rights although it could struggle to monetise its growing portfolio of streaming rights if it adds cricket to the English Premier League and other offerings.

The move comes as Google looks to lift subscribers to their YouTube Red subscription service and as Cricket Australia faces the game’s biggest ever ball tampering controversy.

Earlier this month Cricket Australia rejected a joint bid from Nine Network and the CBS- backed Network Ten for its broadcast rights. Instead CA want’s a deal between a free to air network and a subscription TV broadcaster such as Foxtel Sports, Google or Optus in an effort to hit a $1 billion deal.

The Australian newspaper learnt that Google’s YouTube has shown interest in CA’s rights, suggesting the start of the auction for cricket rights has not been marked by the same growing appetite for sports rights among the tech giants seen around the world.

For Google the move could boost sales of Android TV’s smartphones and tables as well as their Chromebooks which are fast gaining traction in Australia. It would also lift awareness of YouTube Red who are currently trying to sell more subscriptions of their video and music streaming content.

It is understood Google contemplated a bid for a cricket highlights package but may not tender a firm bid this time round especially as the game is reeling from a controversy that has thrust cricket onto the front pages for all the wrong reasons.

The Australian said that Facebook’s position is less clear after the social network was courted by CA officials. A Facebook spokeswoman said: “Sports are an important experience, but we can’t talk about specific rights negotiations at present.”

Any deal between the free-to-air consortium and CA or a Google or Facebook, would have the potential effect of locking out Foxtel and Fox Sports, which could limit the organisation’s chances of striking a $1 billion deal.

It now appears likely, however, that CA will seek a deal across pay-TV and free-to-air platforms in an effort to gain the maximum price for the rights, ­reflecting the prevailing trend in recent record rights deals achieved by the NRL and AFL.

The Australian which is owned by News Corp the 50% owner of Foxtel and the owner of Fox Sports, said that If Foxtel and Fox Sports fail to land cricket rights ahead of the next season in October, the pay-TV broadcasters will switch their attention to the Australian Open and the EPL, whose $187m, three-year deal with Optus is up for grabs. Bids for the EPL are due by April 12. Fox Sports lodged a firm bid for all forms of the game and outlined plans to launch a dedicated cricket channel on Foxtel. Fox Sports is keen to win back rights to the BBL, which it broadcast before the rights moved to Ten in 2013.

CA receives $600m from its five-year deal between 2014 and 2018. Of this, $500m is generated by Nine’s international rights and with $100m comes from Ten’s BBL. BBL rights could generate $250m to $300m in the new deal and international rights were expected to sell at a lower multiple.

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