Goat tracks in the media landscape
Russell Degnan

For urban designers, the placement of paths in a manner that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing can be a problematic process. It happens, frequently, that the path they designed doesn't correlate with the path people want; formed where the people do want a path, is a desire path (referred to colloquially as a goat track, or cow path).

The example at right, in Melbourne's Flagstaff Gardens is typical, connecting the corner of the gardens with the actual path and cutting out a considerable distance. Faced with such paths, designers have a choice: repave the path, or in some enlightened cases, post-pone paving until a path has formed; or in the case at right, build small fences to deter or prevent pedestrians messing up the landscape.

Both the former and the latter are solutions, either can enhance or detract from the aesthetic experience. But the latter does so at an additional cost: inhibiting movement, slowing people down, changing the pattern to something less optimal.

A week ago Giles Clarke stated that internet piracy was cricket's biggest danger. Samir Chopra has already done a good job demonstrating the foolishness of such an exagerration, and making a case for embracing, not repelling internet media. But he left unstated the basic market case for embracing internet streaming.

I watch internet streams semi-regularly, not because I don't pay for the cricket I watch, but because that payment is inadequate to cover all the cricket I want to watch. Cricket Australia's legal streams of Shield games are the only method of watching those games outside the ground; the test between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe wasn't televised, the first two tests of England-Pakistan weren't televised live, the Asian T20 qualifiers needed to be hunted down from a stream of Nepalese television, the New Zealand-Zimbabwe games were on at the same time as the India-Australia test match, parts of the Australia-India and India-West Indies test matches were watched not on tv, but on my phone or computer, because I wasn't at home. Some of them are probably illegal streams, some are ambiguous, and some hint at enlightenment amongst administrators of Australia and India.

Internet streams are the desire paths of the media landscape; administrators have a choice, they can expend great energy to fence people off from them, or they can pave them, turning them from dodgy, ad-ridden, jerky and slow, into high quality, watchable, and potentially profitable markets. The NBA and MLB, blessed with more games than it is theoretically possible to watch both sell online passes for watchers of their sport; they know tv stations, bound to a geographic locality and limited in terrestrial bandwidth have no interest in showing every game, and they know that fans have diverse preferences that the internet enables them to fulfill. For a fee.

Cricket administrators, and particularly the ICC, have been negligent in exploiting this method. The evidence of market demand is everywhere. The rationale ought to be straight-forward. This is particularly the case for ICC associate tournaments whose primary market is not necessarily small, but is very dispersed. It is, frankly, a disgrace, that the ICC hasn't made it a priority to ensure that the most important tournament for the 16 biggest markets outside the full members is broadcast for fans in those nations to access. Given the relative cost (perhaps $200,000 to show all 72 games), that they were willing to gift six times as much to the four nations that absolutely don't need the money via test championship prize-money is an embarrassing sign of their priorities.

Cricket, particularly test cricket, needs internet streaming, for promotion, and for income. Its fans would pay for it, because many already do; many more suffering intolerable poor streams to watch their favourite sport. It is not the mid-90s anymore, online streaming of sport has been a reality for some time; if cricket's administrators are unwilling to stay abreast of the media landscape they operate in, then it is about time it got new ones.

Cricket - Articles 5th February, 2012 09:50:25   [#] 


Goat tracks in the media landscape
Streaming media is certainly a step forward. Legal streams can easily replace illegal ones and capture a large additional source of ad revenue.
Soulberry  5th February, 2012 18:07:27