13:30 Update: YouTube has confirmed its first agreement to stream a live sporting event over the internet. The Google-owned portal will show coverage of Indian Premier League cricket, an event that has even attracted the Bollywood film industry, with stars joining in the auctions that priced the top players in excess of $750,000 (€521,000).
YouTube will screen the matches live with revenues being drawn from sponsorship and spot advertising. The matches will be available globally with the exception of the United States, calling into question the value of the broadcast television rights. There is currently no UK rights holder following the collapse of Setanta Sports, which carried the event last year, though Middlesex’s Eoin Morgan was the only England-qualified player to find a buyer in the auction process.
Online viewers will be able to select their own camera positions – a functionality that has largely disappeared from pay-TV due to lack of interest – or access statistics from the IPL site.
In tennis, internet streaming of the ATP tour sits side-by-side with sales to premium sports channels. The broadcast rights for the IPL are owned by Sony, which is understood to have paid $1 billion over 10 years.
Cricket has long used streaming to bring coverage of events outside its core areas of interest. In 1997 Rolling Stone and cricket fanatic Mick Jagger bought the rights to the Sharjah Trophy cricket tournament to allow him to listen to the event while on tour. The coverage was hosted by CricInfo, the news site now owned by ESPN.