Opinion: Can Mzansi Super League be Economically Viable?

Can Mzansi Super League be Economically Viable?

Cricket South Africa's Mzansi Super League ran at a loss in its opening season, but they remain hopeful that it can turn into a cash cow.

Quite how that is going to happen remains to be seen since Cricket South Africa failed to jump on the T20 gravy train early enough.

While Australia's Big Bash also began its existence in the red, the Aussie board were able to include the tournament in a massive new TV deal with Network Ten in 2018. The broadcaster is understood to have paid $100Million to broadcast the tournament for the next five years. On top of that CA, who own the BBL just like CSA own the MSL, also got bumper deals for broadcast rights in the UK and India.

Cricket South Africa were able to secure a deal with Sony to broadcast  the tournament in India. The fee they paid wasn't able to prevent the tournament from running at a loss though. It hasn't been made public what the deal with the SABC, as broadcast partner, was worth. Most have speculated that the figure was either low or non-existent given the cash-strapped state of the national broadcaster.

Perhaps the biggest problem for CSA will be trying to convince anyone the MSL is worth buying among the sea of T20 Leagues popping up all over the world.

The international players added to the league didn't generate as much interest as they may have hoped. The standard of the tournament is not significantly better than the existing franchise T20 series despite all the fanfare.

Perhaps if CSA had put this idea into action 8-10 years ago, they could have carved out a niche in the market. Without a significant improvement in quality, though, the MSL will keep on haemorrhaging funds.

CSA may feel that if they can attract quality players from overseas and use the tournament to broaden their players T20 talents, running at  a loss could be deemed acceptable. It is clear from what CSA has said on the matter, that they want the MSL to make money. What is not so clear is whether they have a plan to make that happen.

It is fantastic to have cricket back on free to air TV but the chances that CSA can get a bumper deal from the SABC in the next few years are non-existent. Supersport have shown very little interest in the tournament after falling out with CSA over a proposed partnership.

CSA also face legal challenges from stakeholders in the scrapped Global T20 League.

The MSL is set to continue, for now, but how long can South African cricket support the T20 Super League dream?

Written by James Richardson for Hollywoodbets. 

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