03 Nov

The Spring Media agency has secured international broadcast distribution for the European Cricket League (ECL) through an agreement with the OTT operator Sports Flick that includes exclusive global rights with the exception of the Indian subcontinent.

The deal with the Australia-based subscription OTT platform, which was established last year, runs until the end of 2022 and includes the streaming of over 1,000 matches per year.

Rights inventory includes the flagship ECL in 2021 and 2022, plus the European Cricket Series, which launched earlier this year.

Sports Flick’s streaming begins today (2 November) with action from the European Cricket Series Rome. Rights in the Indian subcontinent were excluded from the agreement given the existing rights deal with FanCode, the ad-free digital platform.

The Stockholm-based Spring Media was mandated by the ECL organisers to distribute worldwide broadcast rights to its inaugural edition in 2019. The 2020 iteration was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Craig Neilson, commercial manager at Spring Media, said: “We’ve seen an exciting partnership with ECL AG develop over the past 18 months and are pleased to extend that cooperation further.

“The media rights agreement with Sports Flick and the continued growth in European Cricket allows Sports Flick to become the go-to cricket platform outside the Indian sub-continent, and the ideal partner to help grow European cricket interest globally.”

Spring Media is also tasked with the live broadcast production of matches.

ECL chief executive Roger Feiner, the Swiss broadcast executive who previously headed up rights acquisitions at Teleclub and UPC’s MySports, said: “We are proud of this historical step, born and agreed in a very special sports and media environment. We are committed to supporting the growth of European Cricket in close cooperation with our TV partners.”

Until now, streaming of matches outside the Indian subcontinent was offered by European Cricket Network (ECN), the ECL’s in-house free and ad-supported streaming platform.

Fancode is the exclusive taker of the ECN live streams in the Indian subcontinent and Sports Flick is now the exclusive taker of the live streams in the rest of the world. The ECN website will continue to offer news, statistics, reports, previews, scores and match highlights. The scoring coverage, offering live scores and graphs but not live streaming, will continue to be available on Facebook and YouTube internationally.

A 50-per-cent subscription discount has been offered by Sports Flick at a cost of A$7.45 ($4.99) for the first month.

Dylan Azzopardi, chief executive and founder of Sports Flick, noted: “Having closely followed multiple European Cricket Series events during extreme circumstances and witnessed the interest generated through tough times this year, it definitely feels like the right time. To live broadcast over 700 matches by the end of 2020 is an incredible milestone.”

ECL founder Daniel Weston told SportsBusiness “It’s hard in countries where cricket isn’t on the radar, be it Belgium, Italy, France or Spain [for example]. It can be hard to get a broadcaster from each of those countries to say they want to take it.

“But Spring Media has got some discussions going on with local domestic broadcasters…it’s not going to be an instant big win on the broadcasting side in some of these places where cricket has not existed before.”

A series of one-year broadcast deals were agreed for the 2019 ECL as distribution was secured with 43 broadcasters across 120 territories.

Commenting on ambitions for profitability, Weston underlined the need to establish the quality of the ECL product before thinking about a financial return.

He said: “We want to establish a great product. Chipping away to profitability is a multi-year story which is the same as creating a better product year in, year out. The level of the product will get better each year, increasing the monetisation of the partnerships.

“It was never about being profitable in year one or year two. It was always about creating a wonderful product because we can’t become profitable without it. And you can’t have a wonderful product without having a few years under your belt to make it a wonderful product.”

John Stephenson


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