Sony Pictures Sports Network (SPSN) is on the verge of securing broadcast rights for the England & Wales Cricket Board much-hyped forthcoming league, The Hundred in India, as per the sources.
According to the sources, along with Sony, Star Sports, Viacom and Eurosport were in contention for bagging the TV rights of ‘The Hundred’ in India. Along with The Hundred, Sony all hold the media rights of the three other marque events, Tokyo Olympics 2020, India Tour of England and India Tour of Sri Lanka.
Sony Strategic decision to keep the viewers attached
The Hundred is scheduled to commence from 21st July. Thus the event will coincide with the Olympics, the bilateral series between India and Sri Lanka and most importantly India’s test series against England. Sony’s interest in winning the broadcasting rights for it seems strategic, considering all the other factors involved.
One of the major benefits for the viewers and the broadcasters is the timing of the events for the Indian audience. Sony Sports Network wants the audience to stay tuned to its channels and gain maximum viewership. This is an excellent opportunity to gain surplus revenue by hosting all the marquee events on its channels. Strategically, it is an all-out move from Sony to leap far ahead of its competitors, especially Star Sports Network, which has acquired Indian home series and IPL rights.
The Hundred clash with other sports events on Sony Network
Even though Sony Sports has its schedule packed with the other three events, it is interesting to see its interest in winning the rights for the The Hundred. Especially, when the dates and timings of these events will clash.
The Hundred clash with Tokyo Olympics 2020
The Olympics which will start on 23rd July, two days after The Hundred will run throughout the day on Sony Sports channels. As Japan is three and a half hours ahead of IST, the daily schedule of the Olympics is expected to end somewhere around 7:30-8:00 pm IST. And to viewers’ benefit, The Hundred will only begin after that. Most of the matches are scheduled for either a 10:30 pm or 11:00 pm IST kickoff. Few of the early kickoffs at 7:00 pm IST and 8:00 pm IST are still manageable for the broadcaster. Also as per previous data, 8 pm is primetime in India and a large number of fans tune in to watch sports or other content of their liking.
The Hundred clash with India Tour of England
The Hundred dates also clash with the India Tour of Sri Lanka, which is scheduled to begin on August 4. But there will be to clash in timing as the Test matches which start from 3:30 pm IST onwards are expected to finish by 10:30 pm or 11:00 pm at max. This would allow Sony to immediately shift towards the broadcast of The Hundred.
The Hundred clash with India Tour of Sri Lanka
Sony will have to deal with the clash of the India Tour of Sri Lanka with The Hundred, as one ODI and 3 T20s times will clash. And it will be interesting to see how Sony manages it.
The Hundred: New Format, New Rule
The Hundred is expected to take the cricketing world by storm. It is a new concept and format introduced by the ECB for cricket lovers to enjoy and cherish. Considering the young generation’s love for the shortest format of the game and the tremendous success of all these global T20 leagues, the ECB has come up with a variant of its own.
The Hundred Format
The competition will include 8 teams competing for the title over 38 days during the ever so beautiful British summer. Each team will play four matches at home and four matches away (thereby playing their closest rival twice in a format similar to the Big Bash League), which means there will be a total of 32 games in the league that precedes the playoffs. The top 4 teams after the league stage will enter the playoffs, which will be similar to the format used in the Indian Premier League.
Each team is to be made up of fifteen players, of which a maximum of three could be overseas players. Two of the fifteen players will come from players that performed well in the Vitality T20 Blast. At least one England Test player is included in each of the eight men’s teams competing in The Hundred.
The Hundred Rules
The rules for this tournament are also a bit different.
- 100 balls per innings
- A change of ends after 10 balls
- Bowlers deliver either five or 10 consecutive balls
- Each bowler can deliver a maximum of 20 balls per game
- Each bowling side gets a strategic timeout of up to two and a half minutes
- A 25-ball power play start for each team
- Two fielders are allowed outside of the initial 30-yard circle during the power play
- Teams will be able to call timeouts, as has been the case in the Indian Premier League since 2009.
The Hundred Key Players
Some of the marquee players that are listed to be a part of this tournament are Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Rashid Khan and Joe Root. These superstars are expected to light up the inaugural version of cricket’s shortest ever format.
But a number of players have been pulling out of the competition for a variety of reasons, including COVID and bubble fatigue. Kieron Pollard, Kane Willamson, Andre Russell are a few to name them.
Therefore, the firepower and potential in this tournament are immense and part of the reason why Sony is gunning to win its broadcasting rights. This is exactly the kind of tournament that fans would love and cheer for. If Sony can land this deal, it would emerge as the undisputed leader in Sports TV broadcasting in India. Thus power, status and money are all at stake. But overall it’s a win for the fans that will be treated with great sporting action throughout.
Sony have also been aggressively going after the football media rights, recently they have renewed UEFA broadcast rights in India for next 3 years. Sony calls itself the ‘home of football’ as it owns rights to a range of high-quality football such as Euros, champions league, Europa League, Serie A and has also made its latest edition to that portfolio with the likes of the Japanese J-League.
However, Sony gave up the rights to La Liga in 2018 as it was looking to bring more cricket under its belt after the big blow of losing the IPL to Star earlier that year. The rights were taken by Facebook, and have since moved to Viacom 18. In a first for the sporting world in India, the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona will be displayed on Viacom 18’s youth entertainment channel MTV.