Cricket fans are set to be able to watch Indian Premier League matches on YouTube after a deal with Google, according Indian media outlets.
Reports say the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the search engine will announce the deal – which may mean live matches in countries where the TV rights have not been sold – on Wednesday.
No TV deal has been agreed for the UK following the collapse of Setanta, which held the TV and internet rights to the competition.
YouTube had already hosted highlights of last year’s IPL on an existing channel. YouTube has already been testing large-scale live events such as a U2 concert and was on Tuesday due to stream the IPL’s pre-season “auction”, in which teams will bid for 51 players.
India’s Sony Entertainment Television and Singaporean World Sport Group jointly hold domestic and global IPL broadcast rightsin a $1.2bn 10-year deal, and have resold to a patchwork of global players. Willow TV holds North America internet rights.
Now reports say the 59-match, 45-day day IPL, the third season of which starts on 12 March, will be broadcast live on YouTube – but in which territories and on what basis is not clear.
It could be a deal to bring the tournament to countries where there is a gap in TV coverage – such as the UK following Setanta’s demise.
The International Olympic Committee hosted Beijing 2008 highlights on YouTube for countries with no television deal.
DirecTV aired last year’s IPL in the US on its $149-a-year Cricket Ticket.
IPL chair Lalit Modi hinted that a deal was looming. He tweeted: “Wait and watch for breaking news soon.”
YouTube UK told paidContent:UK: “We can’t comment on rumour and speculation.” But Bruce Daisley, the lead for display ads and YouTube at Google in London, is quoted by Marketing magazine as saying: “We’re keen to see how the community will take to live sport. There’s a real interest in live events, so we’re excited.”
An event like the IPL could be an important shot in the arm to YouTube’s ad sales. The IPL is not just a domestic Indian cricket tournament but features players from around the world. It plans to pay out 6% of an expected $1.6 billion, 10-year income as prize money.
Marketing mag reported: “YouTube wants to sign a global sponsor and multiple local backers as part of its strategy to make money from the coverage.”
Telegraph.co.uk said: “Modi told India’s Economic Times at the weekend that he hopes to hold matches in the United States within 18 months.” The paper adds: “Google will split advertising revenue”, although without confirmation.