Amazon Prime Video has defended its four-year deal for the exclusive live broadcast rights in Australia for The International Cricket Council (ICC) cricket, following backlash.
The deal includes streaming rights in Australia for 448 live games from 2024 to 2027, and does not include an attached free-to-air partner. In the most recent ODI World Cup, Foxtel and Kayo broadcast the entirety of the event, while on free-to-air, Nine broadcast Australia’s games and other major matches.
“Prime Video’s focus is on offering Australians content they want to watch, and it’s well known that Aussies love sport. We want to be part of the growing and changing mix of options Australians have to enjoy sports content on their screens,” an Amazon spokesperson told Mediaweek.
Bringing the match broadcasts behind a paywall has sparked criticism of the move from Australia’s peak commercial TV industry body. Writing for Mediaweek, Bridget Fair, chief executive officer of Free TV said of the deal:
“The Amazon ICC Cricket World Cup deal announced in early December made it abundantly clear that subscription streaming services with deep pockets are coming for the iconic sporting events Australians love, just like they have with the NFL in the US and Premier League in the UK.
“Without updates to our anti-siphoning rules to bring them into the streaming age, there is a real risk we could lose the free broadcast of big events like the Matildas, so we can expect this debate to continue well into 2024.”
The announcement has been made as the Albanese Government continues to work to reform the anti-siphoning laws. The laws give free-to-air broadcasters the chance to buy the broadcast rights to major events, so that they remain freely available to all Australians.
Last week, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland introduced updated laws to parliament, saying “All Australians, regardless of where they live or what they earn, should have the opportunity to enjoy free TV coverage of iconic sporting events.”
Mediaweek has contacted Minister Rowland’s office for comment.