Cricket goes for online middle stump

Selling off Net and mobile phone rights

English cricket is hoping to make a tidy packet by selling off Internet and mobile phone rights to its matches. The idea is to get cricket fans to subscribe to a stats service that will provide them with updates of scores, batting averages and quick clips of wickets falling.

Such a service is exactly what mobile companies hope will persuade us to move to 3G phones - if they ever get them working - and may help them to actually make some money to cover the billions of pounds they've spent on licences and development.

A possible model for 3G devices could be the cable TV market. Sky managed to pick up large numbers of subscribers by buying the rights to sports that people couldn't do without, like football. Once you have a customer base, you can then start to milk more money out of them.

Cricket is also a good sport for this sort of service as games can continue for several days and people simply can't afford to watch them all the time. That doesn't mean that they don't want to know immediately that someone gets a century or goes for a duck though.

The cricket union reckons that such rights could be worth £100 million over 10 years. The current contracts with Channel 4 and BskyB are due to run out next year. ®

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