IS TWENTY20 on the slide worldwide? Has it got too big for its boots? No one in Australia is really worried about who wins the World Twenty20 tomorrow. The footy and Bathurst have easily won that battle. My family and friends are still talking about the close finish of the Ryder Cup and yet not a word about Australia’s performance in Sri Lanka.
It made me think: Has the Twenty20 revolution burst its bubble? Watching the World Twenty20 I noticed the stands were empty in Sri Lanka at first, but they seemed to grow as we got deeper into the tournament.
The interest wasn’t there in the Sri Lankan Premier League a month before and it seems to have carried on into this World Cup.
So why is this World Cup not getting the public attention it deserves? Was it the constant rain? The ridiculous scheduling of poor matches? Or was it the rubbish Duckworth-Lewis system ruining the games? Is there just too much Twenty20 played?
Who knows? But one thing is certain: Twenty20 is on the slide.
Since the first Indian Premier League, every country has been trying to organise its own domestic Twenty20 tournament. Now we have 15 such tournaments played throughout the world each year.
Throw in the other formats of 50-over one-dayers and Tests, and the marketplace – or the fans, as I call them – are confused and getting very choosy about what they want to watch, and follow.
The initial interest from the fans for the Sri Lankan and Bangladesh leagues was poor and worsened as their tournaments progressed. And this response has put the brakes on for the upcoming Pakistan Premier League, Arabian Cricket League and a proposed USA T20 League – which were scheduled for the next seven months.
Television companies and other media outlets are very careful where they spend their money. They are only on the lookout for tournaments that have sustainable growth and impact – for their viewers, readers and advertisers. The same applies to companies who want to buy major naming rights.
The biggest juggernaut of all Twenty20 competitions is the Indian Premier League. The IPL started with a bang, but now we are noticing change within the fans. They are not watching or caring about the IPL.
From my point of view, this year’s IPL was the best yet, but the average television viewer ratings for the first 16 games was down 9 per cent from the same point last season.
Television ratings for the IPL have continued to fall in comparison to 2011, but media outlets are saying the IPL is still a ”very successful media property”.
The second biggest Twenty20 tournament is the Champions League, which starts next week in South Africa. Domestic teams from around the world, who have qualified through their own domestic competitions, play off for a first prize of $US2.5 million.
Australian, Indian and South African cricket boards own the rights to the Champions League. ESPN Star Sports paid $US900 million for the global broadcasting rights for CLT20 for 10 years – in comparison to Sony Entertainment Television’s purchase of the IPL rights for $US1.1 billion.
Rumours are spreading fast that ESPN wants out of the CLT20 contract. Major sponsors are leaving the IPL and CLT20, and cricket authorities are very concerned.
My sources tell me CLT20 will only work if it is played in India and not South Africa. Everyone now is expecting empty seats in South Africa, and the reason for this is simple: there is just too much cricket being played.
With all the Test and one-day internationals alongside the plethora of Twenty20 tournaments, the fans are voting with their feet and ultimately with their money. Simply, cricket needs Twenty20, but it needs to find the right balance.
I was coaching some kids recently and I asked this question: Which would you prefer to play in, one Test match; five ODIs; or 10 Twenty20 matches for your country?
They all said they would prefer to play Test cricket. Maybe the kids have seen through the skin of this Twenty20 phenomenon. Or maybe the kids just want to play some quality cricket. There is hope.
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