The new channel will show highlights, news packages, historic matches and player interviews as well as skills tutorials. Photo: Melissa Adams
Cricket Australia has struck a deal with technology giant Apple to become the first Australian sport on the fast-growing Apple TV platform.
The deal, to be announced on Wednesday, will create a dedicated cricket channel on the Apple TV network to show highlights, news packages, historic matches and player interviews. The content will be produced by Cricket Australia and Nine Entertainment Co .
It will be the first deal of its kind with an Australian sport, media company or content provider. Cricket Australia and Nine plan to generate revenue through advertising on the channel, which is streamed via the internet to televisions that have the Apple TV device.
All video on the channel will be broadcast in high definition, which is popular with fans who own high-end televisions. Both Nine’s international matches and Network Ten’s Big Bash League domestic Twenty20 competition are shown in standard definition.
Neither Apple or Cricket Australia will pay or charge for the service, which the sport hopes will act as a way for viewers to catch up with matches they were unable to watch live.
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Highlights of Test matches will be available on the service about 1.5 hours after the end of play. One-day and Twenty20 matches will be shown about 30 minutes after they finish.
The deal could be a precursor to selling subscriptions for the cricket service in future broadcast rights deals, something that other sports such as the AFL are investigating.
Cricket Australia’s $$60 million digital joint venture with Nine is part of a $$550 million cash and contra broadcast rights agreement with Nine and Ten that was signed in 2013.
Apple, meanwhile, hopes the deal helps in the short term at least to boost Apple TV sales. Close to 1 million people in Australia are said to own Apple TV digital media player micro-consoles which allow viewers to stream video, music, movies and television to home televisions. The consoles sell for about $$100 in Australia.
Apple TV is competing with other smart TV providers such as Samsung, Sony, Amazon and Google, and media hubs such as PlayStation and Xbox.
Apple last year reported annual Apple TV sales of about $$US1 billion ($$1.2 billion) in the United States, where sports such as Major League Baseball and the National Football League and National Basketball Association show live matches via subscription, and as well there are dedicated World Wrestling Entertainment and Ultimate Fighting Championship channels.
News and information brands such as Bloomberg, TheWall Street Journal, YouTube, Vevo and Vimeo are also available on Apple TV.Archive included
The Cricket Australia Apple TV channel will include archives of famous matches and players, including interviews with players such as Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist . The channel will show cricket skills tutorial videos from the likes of current players Ellyse Perry, George Bailey, and Shaun Marsh.
Cricket Australia and Nine sell digital subscriptions to consumers for live match coverage and information for mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers. They have rights to all domestic cricket, except for the coming cricket World Cup in February and March. They also have rights to the Ashes tour to England in June.
“This latest innovation demonstrates our dedication to bringing fans closer to the cricket action via any platform and thus expanding and enhancing their digital cricket experience," said Cricket Australia executive general manager of media Ben Amarfio .
Cricket Australia overhauled its digital strategy at the beginning of this summer. “This latest innovation demonstrates our dedication to bringing fans closer to the cricket action via any platform and thus expanding and enhancing their digital cricket experience," it said.