Finding free live cricket streaming on the internet has become something of a search for the holy grail, where even the best information often leads to a complete myth.
This myth can be a text service, a recorded highlights package, an up-front charge for a dodgy embedded video feed, or even an unsafe site. The point has been reached where free live cricket streaming is often attached to the description of an unconnected web page, just to attract visitors.
So, where to find this holy grail? Despite the claims of some sites, very little is free on the internet, and free live cricket streaming is limited to short term packages from some of the major broadcasters. For example, ESPN Star provided free online coverage of the 2009 Women’s World Cup.
On the whole, you will need to buy a “cricket pass” or “cricket ticket” to cover a selected package of live cricket events. This might be a test series, or a package of test and ODI cricket, or even a one year pass to a selection of international cricket events. The packages vary in price and content, to reflect the current fixture list.
For example, a package showing the produced and interactive highlights of the first four Ashes tests and live coverage of the fifth test of the 2006-2007 series cost around US $20. At the other extreme is the recent 12 month package from Willow TV, which was set at US$299. This schedule covered the India tour of New Zealand, 2009 Indian Premier League, ICC Twenty20 World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy and Champions League T20.
There are also hardware and software requirements. For example, for Willow TV you will need Broadband, Internet Explorer 5.0 or above, Windows Media Player 7.1 or above, Windows 98 or later and a minimum of Pentium III, 128 Mb RAM, a 24 bit true colour card and 16 bit sound card. Willow TV do provide a test clip so you can check if your system can receive free video streaming.
If you’re on dial up, cricket streaming just isn’t an option. But even with broadband, buffering delays and poor picture quality can still be a problem, so beware of any broadcaster who insists on taking your money before showing you the quality of their transmission.
So, who are the best online broadcasters? Willow TV has been the market leader since 2003, when it began live internet streaming of major cricket events. They are based in California, but with offices in Bangalore to keep in touch with Indian cricket fans. Their coverage includes nifty features like interactive scorecards and high bandwidth transmissions, as well as mobile and IM updates. Although Willow TV are a subscription service, their latest offerings include free live cricket streaming for a short term, providing you subscribe to one of their business partners.
Cricket Australia TV (CATV) provides live cricket streaming and cricket highlights through Channel 9. Before you consider signing up, look at the “Having problems watching the video?” link on the CATV home page. Amongst other issues, this shows that their cricket highlights are available in many countries, but live coverage is very restricted.
If you’re already a subscriber to Sky Sports in UK or Ireland, then you can watch live cricket online using SkyPlayer, for no extra charge. If you don’t have Sky, this is still available as a subscription service. Another option is to stream Sky Sports direct to your mobile phone using a mobile internet link, though don’t expect great picture quality – you can find out more on the Vodaphone Cricket web page.
ESPN Star offer some intermittent streaming services to their Asian customers – check out their web site for their latest online schedules.
So, the options for genuine live cricket streaming are still limited, though if you’re a cricket fan who can’t access satellite TV then they are a great idea. However, the prospect of free live cricket streaming for all is still remote and likely to remain so while major TV broadcasters dominate the battles for cricket media rights.