Sri Lanka’s home series against India, which will include Kumar Sangakkara’s farewell Test, has fetched only $1.4 million in TV broadcast bids so far. SLC has expressed dismay at the bid amount, and has said it is re-negotiating with Ten Sports, who had made the only bid when the tender period closed last week. Other networks have also renewed their interest in the series since.
Ordinarily, one Test with India is expected to be worth over $2 million in broadcast rights. As the series in August and September comprises of three Tests, the board found the bid to be exceedingly meagre, SLC chairman Sidath Wettimuny said.
“I can’t tell you how disappointed I was with the quotation we got from Ten Sports,” he said. “We were all a bit surprised. So I’ve gone back to them and asked them to look at the figure again, and I’m expecting them to get back to me over the next two days. We have a working relationship with Ten Sports, but I told them that if nothing changes, we’ll have to look elsewhere.”
SLC had hoped broadcasters such as Sony and Star would bid for the series, but although both had originally expressed interest, neither had entered a bid. Broadcasting budgets in India are said to have been drained after the IPL and World Cup, while Star is also preparing for a heavy home season. In addition, networks have been concerned about the possibility of rain interrupting the series, which will be played in Sri Lanka’s inter-monsoon season.
However, Star has since suggested it could enter a bid after all. The company has made no firm commitments yet.
Ten Sports currently holds the broadcast rights for international cricket in Sri Lanka, but as this series is surplus to what had been scheduled in the Future Tours Programme, SLC could sell these rights separately. The series was originally scheduled to be played in India, but the venues were switched as repayment for Sri Lanka’s impromptu ODI tour of India last October and November.
The series schedule has not been finalised, but the latest draft has the first Test beginning on August 18, and the third Test finishing on September 7. (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)