NZ Cricket payday to be whopping $35 million

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:04 02/02/2014
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BIG NAME: India captain MS Dhoni is one of a number of Indian superstars currently on tour in New Zealand.

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New Zealand Cricket has pocketed the biggest payday in New Zealand sport with broadcast rights from this year's Indian tour understood to be worth in excess of $35 million.

And in a new twist to the controversial "big three" takeover of the International Cricket Council by India, England and Australia in Dubai last week, NZC chief executive David White emphatically rejected any suggestion the lucrative Indian tours will soon dry up, instead hinting a scheduled visit by them here in 2019 would be confirmed within a matter of weeks along with tours by "all the big countries".

White confirmed to Fairfax Media that broadcast rights for the present Indian tour were worth more than the then record $25m that NZC banked from the Indians' last visit here in 2009. He would not provide a figure but knowledgeable sources told Fairfax it is more than $35m.

That also surpasses the $25m profit reaped by the New Zealand Rugby Union for all revenues including broadcasting, attendance and sponsorship from the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour and makes the NZC deal the biggest broadcast windfall ever achieved by a national sport organisation. Attendance revenue from the just completed one-day series and the looming tests is additional cream on a large cake.

"Our current (tour) contract is (worth) more than that [2009]. It's very lucrative," White said.

The deal is part of an eight-year international broadcast contract between NZ Cricket and global sports marketing agency Pitch International, struck in 2012 and set to cover two Indian tours - the current 2014 visit and a return in 2019 which was scheduled under the ICC's Future Tours Programme (FTP). But India has previously refused to sign up to the FTP, meaning the tour in four years time was no certainty.

But New Zealand's apparent support of the Indian-led ICC takeover now looks to have been a bargaining chip designed to secure a 2019 touring commitment along with bi-lateral agreements with Australia and England to visit here. New Zealand's recent on-field success against India has also been a timely extra factor, with the Black Caps winning respect and ongoing interest from the massive Indian fan-base on the subcontinent.

The developments have eased fears triggered when India's takeover was first revealed a fortnight ago with White commenting that he expected NZC to seal the next step in securing its future financial security including confirmation of major tours "over the next few weeks". Beyond India in 2019, they are likely to include confirmation that England and Australia will also tour here twice between now and 2020.

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"Martin Snedden and I have been in Dubai negotiating, Martin will comment further when we firm up over the next few weeks, but we've made very positive progress in that regard," White said. "One of the things that has been particularly encouraging is the ability for tours here in the future against all of the big countries."

White revealed broadcast rights from the current Indian tour and the scheduled 2019 visit represented 60 percent of NZ Cricket's promised global broadcast revenue from Pitch International for the period of 2012 until 2020.

"We have an international broadcast contract with Pitch International where we've agreed to receive annual income of the same amount so it is spread over the eight years," White said. "Previous contracts were very much based tour-by-tour. This way makes it a bit easier to manage your business cash flow.

"But it's fair to say of the contract, the two Indian tours make up about 60 percent of the value. It's significant."

The 2014 tour profits are also much higher than 2009 despite the fact it was cut short by the Indians, with one test and one Twenty20 game axed from the original itinerary. White denies NZC offered the Indians, who have successfully achieved their political agenda designed for a substantially increased share of ICC revenue, anything in return.

"We just sat down and talked to them. There was no deal done at all," he said.

- Sunday News

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