ESPN-STAR Sports has bagged the telecast rights for Sri Lanka Premier League, making it the sixth Twenty20 format series in the broadcaster's bouquet. Though there was no confirmation from the channel on the duration of the deal, market sources reveal that the deal will last for about five to eight years.
SLPL was supposed to debut last year and was scheduled to run from July 19 to August 4, with 30 matches and seven teams. It was, however, postponed to 2012 on account of incompetence charges by Sri Lanka Cricket (Sri Lanka's apex cricket governing body).
The deal includes a minimum of 24 T20 matches per season of the SLPL, which debuts in August, 2012. It is learnt that the deal is being signed on a revenue sharing basis with Somerset Ventures, a Singapore-based company that has acquired overall sponsorship rights to exclusively partner with Sri Lanka Cricket on a long-term basis, to launch the SLPL.
STAR Cricket, STAR Sports and ESPN will broadcast all the matches live and exclusive in India starting on August 11.
In an official communiqué, Peter Hutton, managing director, ESPN-STAR Sports, says, "Sri Lanka Cricket becomes the 6th cricket body with whom we are working on the shortest form of the game. Our coverage of Australia's Big Bash and the T20 leagues in England and Bangladesh have already shown our commitment to the format, and we look to further grow our live cricket content."
The channel already has telecast rights for five other coveted trophies. The England Cricket Board and ESS extended their partnership for 15 T20 matches, along with other events till 2019. The broadcaster has also tied up with Cricket Australia for five years, for telecast of matches till 2016. This includes 12 T20 games.
The Champions League T20 rights were awarded to the channel in 2008 for ten years, ending 2017. The ICC T20 deal started in 2007 and will end by 2015. Also, the channel broadcast the first season of Bangladesh Premier League in February this year.
Earlier this year, the STAR Group, the Rupert Murdoch-owned broadcast network, bagged the media rights for international cricket played in India. Valued at Rs 3,851 crore, the agreement with BCCI, the national governing body for all cricket in India, is for a period of six years (from July 2012 till 2018) and covers 96 matches.