CSA CEO Pholetsi Moseki admits the organisation is yet to secure an Indian broadcast partner for next year’s SA20 but insists they are not panicking yet.
The tournament kicks off on 10 January and will be packed with international talent after an eye-opening player auction.
However, as it stands, the event will not be shown on TV in India – by far the largest cricket market in the world.
All six of the SA20 franchises were bought by owners of IPL teams, so interest in the competition is sure to be high in India, which makes the lack of an Indian broadcast partner all the more perplexing.
“We’re not desperate and we can even sign a broadcast deal a month before the tournament starts,” Moseki told Sport24.
“SuperSport will be taking care of the production and they’ll provide the feed for the different broadcasters.
“Like any partner, they would like to commercialise the league and get their promotion machinery to work.
“We haven’t put ourselves under that much pressure as yet because there’s still time … production is in place.”
However, according to veteran cricket journalist Neil Manthorp, the problem might be bigger than CSA is letting on after he claimed on his blog that none of the big broadcasters in India had even made a bid for the rights by the deadline on 12 October.
Moseki insists that the nature of broadcast rights negotiations means that some back and forth in negotiations is expected and is confident a deal will be done before the tournament starts next year.
“We always expected that there would be a second round of engagements,” he said. “With what transpired last week, we’ve moved to the second round of engagements, so we’re not really worried.
“We were always going to end up at this juncture when one looks at the nature of concluding this kind of business.
“We weren’t expecting something like what happened in the ICC e-auction where they got crazy numbers.
“We expected that a necessity for further engagement was going to arise.”
Former CSA and ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat isn’t convinced and thinks the issue lies in the fact that SA20 is in direct competition with established T20 leagues around the world and needs to offer something new to attract broadcast partners.
“What has more relevance is available budgets and the wide selection of content that broadcasters can choose from, especially at the time we scheduled to play,” he said.
“We are competing head-on with the ILT20 and even the BBL, BPL and PSL is played from November to February before the premium IPL season starts, so it begs the question of what’s special about the SA20 and why would it command a premium price when some of the world’s best players won’t be involved.
“It will make for a difficult negotiation process, especially in a market where there’s plenty of content available. Buyers can thus be choosy.”