The ICC are under pressure from India to change the format of the 2027 World Cup following the huge viewing figures Rohit Sharma’s side have attracted for this tournament, with over 100million people watching yesterday’s final defeat to Australia.
The world governing body committed to expanding the World Cup from 10 to 14 teams two years ago, but are facing calls to reconsider due to the financial firepower of Indian broadcasters.
Disney Star are paying ICC £2.4billion for exclusive TV rights to their events for the next four years, a huge increase on the previous deal which was worth £1.9bn over eight years.
The domestic Indian deal is all the more extraordinary as it only includes four relatively short tournaments - two T20 World Cups, the 2025 Champions Trophy and the 2027 World Cup in South Africa.
India’s World Cup matches attracted record viewing figures, with Disney Star getting peak audiences of over 50m for all of their games. In addition a record 59m watched yesterday’s final defeat to Australia on their streaming service Disney Hotstar taking the overall audience over 100m.
In another significant development Disney are in the process of selling Star to Indian media giants Reliance Industries, who own the Mumbai Indians, which will bring the broadcaster’s even closer to the country’s cricketing establishment.
Disney Star agreed their four-year contract with ICC last year 12 months after the 2027 World Cup format had been announced, but want the tournament to feature more guaranteed India games. While the new format of two seven-team groups followed by a Super Six stage leading to semi-finals will have more matches overall it throws up the possibility of India being eliminated early on.
India last suffered the embarrassment of being knocked out at the group stage of the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, which was a financial disaster for the ICC.
Retaining the 10-team format with group games each for 2027 would also guarantee an India v Pakistan clash in the group stage, the biggest fixture in world cricket made even more lucrative by the scarcity value caused by the fact that they do not play each other in bilateral series.
The ICC are ultimately in control of the World Cup format, but are hugely influenced by India, whose broadcasters provide around 80 per cent of their revenue.
The importance of the India TV deal is starkly illustrated by the fact that the ICC’s second biggest TV contract is worth less than five per cent pro rata of the £2.4bn being by Disney Star, with Sky Sports paying £209m over eight years for UK TV rights.
India’s influence on the ICC cannot be overstated as was shown by the controversial change of wicket for last week’s semi-final against New Zealand in Mumbai, which was revealed by Mail Sport.
The ICC insist that the 2027 World Cup format will not change as Disney Star bought the rights to a 14-team competition, although leading figures within the game have told Mail Sport that it remains a live issue that will be discussed in detail next year.Read more 2023-11-20T15:18:26Z dg43tfdfdgfd