Want To Watch IPL 2015? Not On Australian TV
It’s one of the glitziest events on the cricket calendar, and it’s got more than its fair share of Aussie heroes taking part. Now in its eighth year, the IPL first made headlines when it offered international cricketers huge sums of money to get involved.
Today, the top-billed players can expect to pocket up to $3 million to play the series, and Fox Sports reports that this year, 29 Aussie cricketers (including the victorious 2015 World Cup side) will collectively pocket $14.5 million for six weeks’ work.
It seems like a cricket fan’s dream – the world’s best players in a fast-paced and high-stakes competition. But it won’t be available to watch on any free-to-air or subscription TV broadcast in Australia this year.
Aussie broadcasters have had a difficult relationship with the IPL, with Channel Ten dropping the rights after disputes with Indian cricket authorities. Ten held the rights for the first four years of the tournament, however chose not to broadcast in the fourth year, 2011.
Fox Sports has confirmed to CraveOnline that they did consider securing the rights to the 2015 IPL season, but decided against it due to “a number of factors”. It’s believed that the Board of Control for Cricket in India sought a hefty fee for the rights when contracts were discussed with Australian broadcasters. Fox Sports representatives say that they would not rule out purchasing the broadcast rights in future years.
So how can we watch the Indian Premier League Twenty20 Series in Australia? Well, cricket die-hards are now being asked to sign up for a subscription to CricketGateway, a streaming service which claims to have secured the rights for all digital streaming services outside of India, Africa, Europe, the UK and USA.
CricketGateway is owned by Wotwerx, which is headed by marketing executive Charles Hoatson, and former cricketer and former CEO of Kings XI Punjab, Neil Maxwell. Maxwell is also an agent for Aussie cricketers, including Michael Hussey and Brett Lee who are both playing in the IPL this year. Wotwerx is associated with TechFront, an Indian company that provides electronic products including LED screens for sporting venues.
The site itself seems to have been quickly thrown together, but accessing the service is simple enough. CricketGateway ask only for an email address without a password – a bit odd – with an optional mobile number to “enable accelerated activation”. There is no obvious option to pay for any enhanced services that the site offers, such as “frame-by-frame match video analytics“.
Using the site is easy. Match analytics allow users to click on aspects of the scorecard (a wicket taken, for example) and see a replay of the action. A pretty handy feature, even if the site looks like it was built by a child using Geocities. The quality of the streaming is mixed at best, but no more so than similar services we’ve seen in Australia before. And, hey, it’s certainly better than nothing.
In addition to the streaming and replay services, CricketGateway also has a “Social Media” page, which appears to be monitoring the web for keywords and then assessing whether the posts are positive or negative. A useful tool perhaps if you’re writing an article about social media coverage of the IPL, but perhaps not so much if you’re just wanting to watch the game.
Another feature (which could almost be described as an Easter Egg, as it only appears on the main menu if you’re on certain pages) is the “Fan Innings”, which is a compilation of highlights of each match, broken up into categories like “pre-match presentation” and “catches”.
While you are watching the game, CricketGateway does claim to offer an “ultra-slow motion” option in its streams. It does manage to slow down the replay videos on the scorecard, but we’re yet to have it successfully work on a live game (though it’s not clear on the website whether that’s even what they’re intending to do).
There are still a few unanswered questions. As the only option for Aussies to watch the IPL, it’s definitely a bit rough around the edges. We tried to speak to Wotwerx but they failed to respond to our questions in time for publication.
The request for an email address but no password is somewhat troubling, and we’re hoping it doesn’t result in spambots following us for eternity. However, it does offer a few nifty features, and if the bugs are ironed out, the positives would definitely outweigh the negatives.
Perhaps the future of sports coverage doesn’t have to include the big TV broadcasters after all.