Industry group 'Free TV Australia' has slammed a new cricket broadcast deal that will see Australian fans forced to pay if they want to watch the next few men's and women's World Cups. Amazon Prime has snared the broadcast rights for all ICC tournaments for the next four years, meaning no overseas tournaments involving Australia will be available on free-to-air television.
It was announced on Monday that the subscription streaming service has secured the broadcast rights in Australia for all men's and women's ICC tournaments until 2027. It means Australia's men's and women's ODI World Cup defences, and the World Test Championship final, won't be broadcast on free-to-air TV.
'COST THE GAME': Matthew Wade fumes as Aussies dudded in final T20
The new broadcast deal for ICC events comes after a 15-year agreement between Foxtel and Channel Nine came to an end last month. Foxtel and Kayo broadcast the recent men's ODI World Cup, while the Nine Network screened Australia's games and some other major matches. But fans will be forced to cough up and pay for Amazon Prime if they want to watch ICC events moving forward.
The new deal has been slammed by Australia's peak industry body for commercial television, with 'Free TV Australia' calling for changes to the nation's anti-siphoning rules to be fast-tracked. "We have been saying for years that streaming giants would be coming for our sports rights here in Australia and the acquisition of World Cup cricket by Amazon just proves the point," Free TV Australia chief executive Bridget Fair said.
"All Australians deserve the right to share our great sporting moments for free, and that right is in serious jeopardy. There is a real risk that more of our iconic sports events could be exclusively acquired by subscription streaming platforms that aren't currently covered by the anti-siphoning rules.
"With cost-of-living pressures in overdrive, we cannot allow access to key sporting events to be dictated by what subscription services Australians can afford. It might also be time to look at whether the limitation of cricket games on the list to those played in Australia or New Zealand is working for the Australian public. We should be able to watch our national team play no matter where the game is taking place."
Current anti-siphoning measures don't stack up
Thankfully the summer of cricket in Australia will still be broadcast on Channel 7, while the Nine Network has the rights to the next two Ashes series in England. But all World Cups and international tournaments that are played overseas will now be behind a paywall.
Last week the federal government reaffirmed its commitment to anti-siphoning measures in Australia, with communications minister Michelle Rowland introducing laws to parliament that would require free-to-air services to be offered first refusal for important sporting events. "All Australians regardless of where they live, or what they earn, should have the opportunity to enjoy free TV coverage of iconic sporting events," Rowland said.
But the anti-siphoning laws don't prevent subscription services being granted exclusive rights if free-to-air networks don't bid for them. The anti-siphoning measures also don't cover Australia's World Cup matches that are played outside Australia and New Zealand.
Aussie cricket fans in uproar over 'shameful' move
ICC boss Geoff Allardice welcomed the partnership with Amazon, saying: "We are very excited to be entering a new four-year partnership with Prime Video for ICC cricket rights in Australia. The recently concluded men's World Cup has highlighted the interest and passion for ICC events across the globe, and especially in Australia where cricket fans have enjoyed the recent success of their men's and women's teams. We look forward to working with Prime Video Australia to provide an innovative coverage of world class cricket to more fans in Australia."
The new partnership between the ICC and Amazon will begin in January, with the subscription service owning the rights to 48 live games between 2024 and 2027. Amazon will broadcast the next men's and women’s ODI World Cups (2027 and 2025), men's and women's T20 World Cups (2024 and 2026), ICC Champions Trophies (2025 and 2027), Under 19s World Cup and the World Test Championship final (2025).
Prime Video Australia and New Zealand boss Hushidar Kharas said: "Over the next four years, Prime members in Australia will be able to watch their favourite cricket teams and players compete for the game's biggest prize, on demand, on the device of their choice - exclusively on Prime Video." Needless to say, the new agreement hasn't gone down well with Aussie cricket fans, who are already missing out on one-day international and T20 international matches in Australia (broadcast on Foxtel and Kayo).
— Lexi (@YourLexicality) December 4, 2023
Spare a thought for the people that don’t have these platforms that’s not on FTA - what a joke!
— Drew Semmens (@drewie_5) December 4, 2023
What a terrible decision- shameful of the government to let that happen
— Greg Hewson (@hewson_greg) December 4, 2023
What a disgrace. No free to air coverage!
— Matt Hope (@MattHope4) December 4, 2023
It's a good thing Australia just won the World Cup. Because as far as most Australians are concerned, that may as well have been the last.
Putting it on Amazon Prime will make it disappear into obscurity like the A-League and rugby union on their obscure streaming services.
— Michael Shillito (@tealfooty) December 4, 2023
Great way to kill the game. Not getting Amazon for 1 thing. Terrible decision from @cricketcomau
— Tim Kendall (@Kendulkar) December 4, 2023
Shocking decision. Game will go the way of Union and A League - don’t they learn? Or is it the ICC who have sold rights and local free to air / Fox just couldn’t match ?
— Tony Beckett (@BeckettTony) December 4, 2023
No free to air games will kill the game, for shame.
— Dawny🇦🇺🏳️⚧️ (@DawnyAussie) December 4, 2023
Even though I have @amazon @PrimeVideo this is disgusting and @CricketAus should hang their head in shame for no free to air coverage at all .
How did the communication minister @MRowlandMP let this thru to the keeper without much of a thought to people who don’t have streaming…
— Darren Camilleri⚫️⚪️⚫️🇦🇺🇲🇹✊🏾🌊🏄♂️ (@camo2572) December 4, 2023
ICC events that will be broadcast on Amazon Prime:
Men's T20 World Cup: USA and West Indies (2024)
Women's T20 World Cup: Bangladesh (2024)
Men's Champions Trophy: Pakistan (2025)
World Test Championship final: England (2025)
Women's ODI World Cup: India (2025)
Men's T20 World Cup: India/Sri Lanka (2026)
Women's T20 World Cup: England (2026)
Women's Champions Trophy: Sri Lanka (2027)
Men's ODI World Cup: South Africa/Namibia (2027)
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.