Short stat: 2013 Ashes Probabilities
Russell Degnan

Inspired by Fake Ritzy's ICC rankings based analysis of Australia's Ashes chances, I ran a monte-carlo simulation of the series using my own (25% draw probability, matching the historic English average).

Australia is a roughly 1 in 8 chance of winning, and a 1 in 8 chance of drawing. 3-1 England is the only scoreline returning a positive net return on the betting markets. Australia's most probable winning scoreline, 1-2, is very (very, very) slightly more likely than losing 5-0. Australia wins 5-0 in about 0.04% of series. I think Australia's Indian tour has caused their rating to under-estimate their chances. With a decent team selection there is grounds for no more than mild pessimism, but given Watson is locked in to open, things are very bleak. Very.

Cricket - Analysis 29th June, 2013 01:13:21   [#] [1 comment] 

Europe with Nick Pink; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and I are joined by Nick Pink, development manager for ICC Europe for a candid chat on their Street Cricket initiative, development funding and tournament planning in Europe, the forthcoming ICC Europe T20 Division 1 and some key issues. In the news, we preview the Ireland-Netherlands I-Cup and Scotland-Kenya WCL games, and more besides.

Direct Download Running Time 51min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 23rd June, 2013 15:16:09   [#] [0 comments] 

Czech Republic with Jan Bartosik; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

A show recorded in three parts. In the first, Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and I discuss ground development, the Scotland vs Pakistan matches, the first Irish match and test status. In the second part, Jan Bartosik (@janbartosik) joins me to talk about the hurdles of taking up an unfamiliar sport in one of the ICC's smallest nations. In the final part, Andrew and I discuss the final Ireland match against Pakistan and the Netherlands match against South Africa, and ICC eligibility in light of Rankin's selection for the English squad.

Direct Download Running Time 66min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 9th June, 2013 00:15:35   [#] [0 comments] 

Cricket in the Australian Media Landscape
Russell Degnan

There was much self-congratulatory noise emanating from all parties to the Cricket Australia press conference on the new TV deal this afternoon. Channel Nine affirmed their commitment to being the international cricket station; one that underpins their entire summer schedule and something they will never relinquish without a long look. Channel Ten, with a generous bid for the international rights, and an extra chip for the BBL got what they probably wanted in the first place: their rival bid high, and they came away with a risky but promising sporting franchise they can build on. And Cricket Australia got not just a significant increase in cash, but reduced their dependence on Indian TV money from nearly a quarter of their revenue to closer to a sixth. With every day that bigger cushion looks a lot safer to fall back on.

What they also managed to do is get something closer to what cricket's TV rights are actually worth. TV rights in Australia have increased significantly since the last contract was signed in 2006. There must have been some concern that they'd increased so much that no outlet would present a challenging bid.

Comparing the various codes is not straight-forward. Actual value depends not just on ratings, but the length of programs, the total number of ads shown, the number of fixtures and the demographics. We can simplify a little by ignoring the demographics and the ad-rate - which is any-case, once surrounding programming is considered generally works out to around one minute of advertising for every five minutes of programming.

The linked document details the basic outline of tv rights in various codes. Netball, NBL and Super Rugby were ignored because in the former cases no details of rights deals could be found, and in the latter, the international competition makes it harder to calculate.

Two deals - the AFL's $250.6m per year and the NRL's $205m per year are comparable against the programming created last season. Cricket ($90m and $20m plus $8m in digital rights) and the A-League ($40m) have been signed, but the ratings are from the previous season - which for both the BBL and A-League has partially moved from Foxtel to FTA. The Australian Open has yet to sign a new deal, having rejected Seven's low-ball $21m offer (quite rightly). By then calculating the average rating (or total viewers) and multiplying that by the total number of hours broadcast and adding on extra programming (preview and highlight shows) we can calculate a total viewing hours. Dividing that figure by the money offered gives the graph of viewer hours per dollar spent:

A few things can be drawn from this:

  • Either SBS and Foxtel significantly over-spent for the A-League or they are banking on a significant increase in ratings. The latter is likely, as the ratio of viewers to attendance for the AFL and NRL is between 15 and 30 to 1, while the A-League it is 7 to 1. Bringing that ratio in line would also bring the cost per viewer level.
  • Because sport is a loss-leader for other programming the length of season matters. The commentators horrific play-acting aside, the tennis and cricket seasons promote less programming and take up a larger segment of the available schedule than the football codes, which may explain why they cost less per viewer.
  • The BBL is already relatively good value on pay-tv at the price Ten spent. If the ratings increase they will have found a bargain.
  • The pay-tv components of AFL and NRL drag down their average rating, while significantly increasing the programming. Cricket continues to suffer from a lack of content (roughly 200 hours versus 700+ for AFL) which is why it makes less than half the other codes per year.
  • Another factor lowering the value in Ten's eyes is that the BBL ratings carry a significant opportunity cost in the evening time-slot. One benefit of test cricket is that even the weaker weekday morning ratings offer significantly more viewers than comparable programming.

That cricket rates as well as football can be seen from this graph:

The benefits of moving into prime-time and onto the weekend - as the BBL does, and test cricket would if they ever got the right ball - are obvious here. The bulk of cricket programming lies during weekdays when people are at work. Cricket is an immensely popular sport nationally, despite its many problems with context, inequality of fixturing and troublesome scheduling.

The BBL deal may be seen as a bargain in five years time. It represents a significant opportunity for Cricket Australia and Channel Ten, to build up a franchise that ought to be two or three times more valuable - and probably much longer when the next tv rights package comes around. Having it separate from the broader cricketing public on Channel Nine may make that harder in the short-term, but will also allow it to promote a separate coherent identity.

Conversely, Ten's record with sport is abysmal and if they can't increase the ratings they will have over-paid for something that will fill their prime-time schedule and not rate. As changes to the sporting landscape go, this is the biggest since the founding of the A-League. The next five years will bear watching.

Cricket - Articles 5th June, 2013 01:45:24   [#] [0 comments] 

England wins by slightly more than expected, Ratings 4th June
Russell Degnan

1st TestEnglandvNew Zealand
Expected MarginEngland by 219 runs
Actual MarginEngland by 247 runs
Series rating1254.7837.7

It was a somewhat traumatised New Zealand that rolled up to Headingley, having collapsed so badly at Lord's, the possibility of the same, and a subsequent loss seemed ever-present. England's decision to bat having lost the first day to rain was somewhat odd. But the scored quickly, particularly Root (104) and Bairstow (64) who put on 124 in 29 overs. The only oddity to the New Zealand collapse was that it came to Swann (4/42), not swing. The tail almost rescued the follow-on, but it wasn't enforced, as it needn't have been with sufficient time to play as long as the rain held.

Cook scored a fast century (130) while Trott (76) dithered and Compton struggled. Like Ed Cowan, a couple of very good seasons are not a statistically sound basis for assuming he will average more than his career first-class record of the low 40s. Still, he has faced hard conditions in his tests to date, and mostly succeeded. New Zealand could certainly use Compton's steal, as only Taylor (70) showed any real resistance to Swann and the match concluded shortly after lunch, amid the threatening clouds and daft accusations at Cook.

Ultimately, what mattered, was that England won, convincingly, but no better than expected. New Zealand's bowling impressed, their batting did not, and they'll not challenge many sides away from home until they can find a way to fight through the difficult patches and not prod clumsily at the moving ball. England now turn to the endless Ashes series, well placed to win, though they are not so good they cannot lose, if they don't play near their potential.

Rankings at 4th June 2013
1.South Africa1324.6
6.Sri Lanka997.9
7.West Indies963.8
8.New Zealand876.0


Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 5th June, 2013 00:28:12   [#] [0 comments]