Sky Sports have boosted their broadcast roster once again by showing uninterrupted coverage of the ICC World T20 Championship being held in Bangladesh.
England will be beginning their T20 campaign on Saturday 22nd March with a match against New Zealand, a match which Sky Sports will of course be covering in full. The whole tournament began on the 16th March with the early matches featuring some of the lower profile teams – UAE, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe to name just a few.
While it is brilliant news for all cricket fans that there is uninterrupted coverage, every single match will be aired on Sky Sports, there has been one major criticism – the selection of matches covered. There is admittedly a greater interest in the teams who feature on the international circuit which is why Sky Sports have opted to air the warm-up matches for these higher profile, but they have done this over the matches that count towards qualification.
By preferring the matches which are of more interest to Sky Sports fans, the question is raised with regards to how much Sky know about their customers; what is their reasoning behind preferring these games? For instance, if the implication is that Sky Sports customers based in the UK are only interested in watching cricket which features England, then Sky have either not conducted research in which case this is somewhat demeaning or they have done and the results are rather disappointing.
When there is a tournament such as this on, it is unlikely that those interested in the sport and contest are going to dismiss the early matches even if they do not feature the nation’s team. All matches are important, especially when they are played to establish qualification into a major tournament. In addition to this it demeans the supporters who are based in the UK – there are a number of different nationalities in the UK and therefore supporters from a range of locales.
It seems short-sighted of Sky to focus on the major teams when the lower profile teams get less coverage and are less likely to feature in the later stages of the tournament due to the lower standard of cricket that they play. As sad as that may be as a general rule, it is unfortunately the case.
In addition to this Sky are the only company with the rights to broadcast the vast majority of cricket, across the globe. If they start to cut down and focus on just the “mainstream” teams it becomes increasingly money-oriented, yet another sad fact of life.
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