After a devastating Test series loss to India, the besieged Australian men's cricket team have hit back in a tense one-day international (ODI) series against India. Accustomed to emphatic victories, Aussie fans have rarely been subjected to such a nail-biting summer.
As a cricket fan, I’m enthralled. Yet as a non-Foxtel subscriber, I’m pissed off. Because the limited-overs games have been cordoned off by News Corp from those unwilling to shell out over $800 dollars a year for a sports package.
Crikey has noted the cynical collusion of Cricket Australia, Foxtel, Seven and the federal government to sidestep anti-siphoning laws and erect commercial barriers around a public spectacle of national significance. Loyal fans must submit to News Corp’s gouging or simply miss out. For many lower- and middle-class households, the price of dedicated fandom is now prohibitive. Last summer’s 50-over games averaged over 1 million viewers. This summer, locked behind the paywall, the first ODI against South Africa garnered only 277,000 viewers, beaten five-fold by the reunion special of Spicks and Specks.