cricket20 :: ESPN secure Champions League rights
t20 World Cup News
ESPN secure Champions League rights

Twenty20s status as the most TV-friendly format was confirmed on Thursday with ESPNStar Sports (ESS) agreeing to shell out nearly $1 billion for the commercial and marketing rights for the proposed Twenty20 Champions League.

This makes the Champions League, promoted by the cricket boards of India, Australia and South Africa, the highest valued cricket tournament on a per-game basis, according to the issued statement.

The deal valued at $975 million, including $75 million set aside for marketing purposes, gives ESS the rights to telecast all seasons until 2017, starting from the inaugural season to be held from December 3 to 10 at as yet undecided venues.

The tournament will offer $6 million in prize money, featuring eight teams, two each from Australia, India and South Africa and the champions from the England and Pakistan domestic leagues. The event will be expanded to 12 teams next year in the second edition to be held between September 25 and October 10.

The network, a joint venture between Disney and News Corp, beat rival bids of $751.3 million from Dubai Investment Council and another, which was disqualified as a conditional bid, from Abu Dhabi Sports Club.

Lalit Modi, chairman and commissioner of Indian Premier League, described it as the best commercial deal for the inaugural season. "We have what we believe to be the best commercial deal for the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League season," he said.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the Champions League will enhance the games popularity at the grassroots level.

"The Champions League Twenty20 will build on the success of domestic Twenty20 leagues in Australia and elsewhere in a manner which accelerates the development of cricket globally," said Sutherland.

"The benefits of this global event will greatly enhance cricket at the grassroots level, particularly for state-level players who get the chance to pit their skills against players from around the world."

The exclusive telecast rights of IPL were won by the consortium of SET and World Sports Group for $1.03 billion for 10 years. ESS, which also holds the rights for all ICC events including the World Cup, Champions Trophy and the T20 Worlds until 2015, said they were delighted to add the Champions League to their line-up.

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