Cricket Portals Protest As Canadians Sew Up IPL Rights

As our sister site first reported, Canadian ecommerce operator Live Current Media Inc (LCM), which owns the bare-bones domain, has won the portal rights to the new Indian Premier League cricket competition for $50 million for the next 10 years. Over that time, it plans to build a cricket site around coverage of the competition, which begins Friday.

For that money, the IPL has introduced a tough set of rules for other accredited sites that raises the prospect of yet another sports online rights tussle. Amongst the sticking points – sites like ESPN’s (NYSE: DIS) Cricinfo and BSkyB-owned Cricket365 will not be able to provide coverage from inside stadia and, unlike conventional news services, they’ll have to buy match images from only an officially sanctioned syndication service, Guardian says. In a sign the IPL is going it alone, LCM will also build two new destinations – and – as official competition sites: “Footage and pictures will be available to buy on the website – but no live streaming of games will be offered.” It wants to buid a “premier sports website, akin to”.

News Media Coalition: “It is an attack on freedom of choice and on press freedom to force controls on the media which mean news pictures of the tournament will not be seen on cricket fans’ favourite websites.” Under pressure, the IPL had upgraded a six-photos-per-game limit to a “reasonable” number of pictures, but many are still miffed. Cricinfo editor Sambit Bal: “We are being denied our basic rights to cover a cricket event in a professional manner.”

News agencies briefly boycotted Rugby World Cup ’07 and an Australia/Sri Lanka cricket test last year over similar restrictions, while the NFL and other orgs are also getting heavy over picture and video use.