Hong Kong T20 Blitz faces biggest test of global popularity as KPMG signs on as title sponsor following record broadcast deal
The fledgling tournament is hoping for millions of viewers around the world and plenty of spectators at the ground
Professional services firm and auditors KPMG has signed on to sponsor the 2018 Hong Kong T20 Blitz on the eve of the tournament, which faces a major test of its popularity this week when the third edition starts today at Mission Road.
With a record number of television broadcast deals delivered by partner Sunset+Vine, organisers are now hoping that fans will either tune in wherever they are around the world or flock to Mong Kok to watch the action live.
“I think this year’s tournament always was going to ride on the rapid growth of last year, and various things that have been put into place have contributed towards that,” said Cricket Hong Kong director Jonathan Cummings. “Obviously, Sunset+Vine and TV distribution is a big step and having title sponsorship from KPMG sends the message that it’s the right level of sponsorship that we want for this type of competition.
“Getting that reach with people watching around the world and watching from the ground itself is the most important things.
“With KPMG, it is very much a partnership with Cricket Hong Kong to help the sport grow in the city and help the tournament grow,” added Cummings, who said the sponsorship deal is initially for one year.
The international stars of Cali-Mex @JDJaguars have descended and raring to ROAR in the #HKT20Blitz this week.
Here is our champion @darensammy88 being welcomed by the #RoaringJags team co-owner Harsh Shah. pic.twitter.com/jK3ONBKWo6
— JD Jaguars (@JDJaguars) February 4, 2018
More than 11 million online views were recorded for last year’s event and organisers hope to attract around 30 million television viewers from its potential reach of 175 million. In terms of ticket sales, CHK say demand has been strong for the weekend.
The first match of the tournament features last year’s runners-up City Kaitak against Cali-Mex Hung Hong JD Jaguars, who bring back West Indies’ two-time World T20 Cup-winning captain Darren Sammy and will boast Australian Ben Laughlin, who helped Adelaide Strikers to Australia’ s Big Bash League title last week.
The tournament has already lost one of its stars with Sussex pace bowler Jofra Archer pulling out of the Galaxy Gladiators Lantau squad because of injury.
Cummings said he expected the event to be a loss this year, though he hoped that by 2019 it can start generating income for the governing body.
“Next year, 2019, is more important financially and we’d like to start to see more of a surplus out of the event so we can invest it back,” said Cummings, who declined to say how much Cricket Hong Kong expected to lose from the 2018 event.
“We are investing in a long-term strategy and we believe it will pay off with what we do with the Hong Kong Sixes [in 2018] and next year’s Blitz.”
The Blitz, which runs until Sunday, features 28 overseas players turning out for Kaitak, Jaguars, defending champions Kowloon Cantons, Hong Kong Island United and Galaxy Gladiators Lantau.
All teams face each other once in a round-robin with the top two playing in Sunday’s final.
“The tournament is getting bigger and bigger each year and with KPMG behind us we can push further on promoting Hong Kong as a centre for innovative major sports events,” said Cummings.
“KPMG were supporters of the event last year so it’s great to strengthen the partnership as we look towards a long-term agreement in future.”
The firm is heavily involved in Hong Kong sport and is also acting as co-lead advisers to the government on the development of the Kai Tak Sports Park.