The 2024-25 season of the Big Bash League (BBL) has been trimmed down to 43 games. This new amount is 18 fewer games than the current season length. The cut is part of a new seven-year domestic broadcast deal struck by Cricket Australia (CA) with Foxtel Group and Seven West Media.
The new broadcast rights deal, which runs from 2024-2031, is worth AUD 1.512 billion to Australian cricket. In addition to the trimmed number of games, Foxtel and Seven will now broadcast all the matches of Australia’s home Test matches and women’s international games from 2024 to 2030.
According to Cricket Australia, the league was reduced in the new deal to allow for an “increased player availability, greater proportion of prime-time matches and stronger alignment with school holidays.”
Reportedly, Seven and Foxtel paid AUD 1.18 in 2018 for the current six-year deal. They also took the rights from the Nine Network, which held them for more than 40 years.
The last time the BBL was played in the 43-game format was in the 2017-18 season. Since that season, the league has expanded to 61 games, including a finals series featuring five matches.
Sources say that the BBL length gained criticism given that the best Australian players representing the national team seldom played in the home-grown T20 league.
In this year’s tournament, fans will see talents like the former captain of the Australian national team David Warner and Australian batsman Steve Smith play.
However, after the New Year’s Test match between Australia and South Africa on the Sydney Cricket Ground, reports say that many overseas talents for the SA20 (South Africa’s premier T20 cricket league) and ILT20 (International League T20) leagues will be lost.
This scenario is something that the league hopes to avoid with the change in future seasons.
Before the deal was struck, Seven West Media and CA had disagreed over content since 2020. The broadcaster even threatened to pull out of the ongoing contract and file proceedings at the Federal Court of Australia in June. As part of this contract extension, Seven West Media has agreed to end legal action against CA over a perceived lack of quality in the BBL.
In a press release by CA, they stated, “Seven will broadcast all men’s Tests and women’s international matches, 23 WBBL (Women’s Big Bash League) matches and 33 of the 43 BBL matches, including three BBL Finals.”
They further stated that the deal includes two home five-Test men’s series against India (2024-2025 and 2028-2029) and two home five-Test men’s Ashes series (2025-2026 and 2029-2030).
Seven said on Tuesday it would pay AUD 65 million a year in the new deal, a 13% reduction on the current one, and would save more than AUD 50 million in cash over the term from reduced fees and production costs.
When the deal was confirmed, Cricket Australia, CEO Nick Hockley expressed excitement and praised the service. He also stated how he was looking forward to “working with our partners to not only televise the games but to promote and grow cricket by encouraging more kids to pick up a bat and ball.”
The latest BBL started on December 13 and ends on February 4. Currently, the Perth Scorchers are standing at number one with 10 points and one loss in the tournament.