How YouTube's IPL Cricket Deal Might Save You Money

It's been an unusually busy couple of weeks for sports-related announcements, but this is potentially the biggest: YouTube has signed a two-year deal with Indian Premier League cricket to stream its matches online. That's quite important even if you find the thought of watching cricket unbearably tedious (yes, my biases are showing), since it could give you a good reason to ditch your pay TV subscription.

The deal marks the first time YouTube has contracted to stream a major sporting event live, making it available to worldwide viewers and relying on associated revenues from advertising. The exception is that users in the US will only be able to watch archived matches, not live streams, which is bad news for expats. Both the 2010 and 2011 seasons are covered. YouTube signed a deal with Cricket Australia to launch a dedicated channel back in 2008, but that didn't provide any live match coverage.

As well as marking a major shift in global broadcasting rights, the deal might also have a major impact on how TV sports broadcasts are made in Australia. Regular sports watchers are undoubtedly familiar with the anti-siphoning list, which outlines major sporting events which can't sell their rights to pay TV channels unless free-to-air has already turned them down.

While that's a nice idea in theory that's meant to ensure that sports fans aren't forced to pay to watch matches deemed to be of national significance, in practice it often means that free-to-air channels get the rights to all kinds of sports and then don't use broadcast them, or fail to broadcast nationwide, replacing live matches in some states with stale and ancient movie repeats. As media blog Mumbrella points out, this deal potentially undermines the entire argument that the list is based on:

The Google deal threatens one of the fundamental arguments of free TV’s position that it deserves special treatment . . . so viewers cannot be held to ransom by subscription TV buying up the rights . . . as viewers would be able to see the games for free, that argument would no longer hold.

One obvious issue with the deal is how well the streaming works in practice. TV picture quality doesn't degrade when the audience gets larger; streaming often does. However, if this kind of approach becomes more common — and if YouTube can come up with advertising revenues that let it match what conventional broadcasters pay — sports broadcasting may undergo a radical shift.

Would you rather watch sport on YouTube? Do you want to see the anti-siphoning list die? Share your thoughts in the comments.

YouTube IPL Channel

Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


    I think IPL coverage in Australia is pretty good. From memory OneHD broadcasts every game live and in high definition. I don't know whether many Australian will subscribe to Youtube just to watch IPL. Although I can understand the attractiveness if the fee is minimal.

    However, if Youtube somehow obtains the rights to events that currently only shown on Pay TV then I'd gladly be paying Youtube to watch them.

      The YouTube IPL broadcasts are free; no fee to pay.

    As a sports consumer living in Victoria, denied decent live coverage of any sport other than AFL in the winter time (even after forking out for pay TV), bring it on!!!

    The coverage down here of the Olympics, NRL and Union was / and is deplorable because of the anti-siphoning legislation. The AFL have a clean feed into the lounges of sports fans south of the barrassi line with no effective competition thanks to this outdated and restrictive piece of legislation.

    The free to air TV stations do not deserve their protected position. Anything that improves wider access to sport is welcomed!

    One HD is free to air anyway... What's your point?

      Country folks don't have OneHD yet..

      Then again, many don't have internet capable of streaming yet, or if they do they're connected with Telstra and therefore it's probably cheaper to buy an annual Austar subscription than the excess download charges they'd accrue from streaming Youtube all night.

        well in is upgrading bandwidth of all its customers on youtube/ipl for free....since majority users are of airtel...there is no problem of little bandwidth

    I personally think that this is revolutionary...people might not warm upto the idea immediately, but the possibilities are end less. Oh and one point no one seems to be highlighting is that this could also change the pvr industry as we know it today. With the user being able to jump aroundd in the live feed who would want to invest in a Tivo any more...kudos to google for doing this.

    For me, as a person who has not owned a TV for a couple years now, the one thing (only thing) I really miss, is live sport. So I would pay for access to sport over the web IF

    (1) the price is reasonable.
    (2) the selection is good
    (3) the selection is ala'carte
    (4) the video quality is HIGH.
    (5) I can come-and-go as I please, no contracts, or minimum monthly spend. Something between pay-per-view and subscription models.
    (6) It's gotta be LIVE LIVE LIVE...

    TEN HD will show most of the games live I guess but many more recorded especially on Sat and Sunday so youtube will be most welcome.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now