The English Cricket Board (ECB) today announced that the UK’s Sky Sports has been awarded the rights to continue broadcasting live international and county cricket in the UK exclusively until the end of the 2017 English summer. There is also an option for Sky Sports to extend the deal for an additional two years, which would cover Australia’s tour in 2019.
Sky Sports is the incumbent broadcaster having taking over exclusive live rights after the 2005 Ashes Series.
The agreement for Sky Sports covers TV, mobile and online and further cements its position as the home of live cricket in the UK. It is also a positive move by Sky as it faces increased competition in the UK pay-TV market as Disney’s ESPN continues to add to its growing broadcast inventory in that market.
Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said:
“This is good news for cricket and good news for viewers. Our viewers will enjoy a breadth of live coverage, at domestic and international level, and the ECB extends a partnership that has proved good for the game.”
Under the current agreement Sky Sports has exclusive live coverage of all international matches, whilst Channel Five has had replay rights to matches played in England. It is unclear whether this agreement will continue when the new deal begins.
This news comes off the back of the ECB announcing last week that it has signed a new six-year deal with BBC Sport for the radio rights to broadcast ball-by-ball commentary on international cricket from 2014 to 2019. The current agreement with BBC Sport is set to expire at the end of the 2013 cricket season.
Following the BBC’s well-publicised cut backs on sports broadcasting, such as entering into a shared broadcast arrangement with Sky for F1 coverage from this year, the ECB will be happy to have reached new terms with the Public Broadcaster.
Barbara Slater, Director BBC Sport, said:
“We’re delighted to be taking cricket on the radio forward for a further six years. Test Match Special, now in its 55th year, is one of the most treasured programmes on the BBC with its unique mix of expert commentary, insight, humour and entertainment.”
The confirmation of broadcast rights for the ECB’s home territories will have an impact in Australia. It will ensure that Australian listeners continue to hear Test Match Special on ABC Local and Grandstand Radio, when Australia tour England for upcoming Ashes series (providing the ABC purchase such broadcast rights). Also as the Nine Network and FOX SPORTS have purchased shared broadcast rights to Australia’s upcoming tours of England viewers in Australia are bound to see Sky Sports graphics and commentary teams on TV.
It will also ensure the rivalry between Nine and Sky Sports continues as they each bring new innovations to their respective cricket broadcasts.
The commercial value of Sky Sports’ and BBC Sports’ new deals with the ECB was not available at the time of publishing.
The focus will now turn to Cricket Australia as it looks to sell its next broadcasting rights package for beyond 2013 to Australian broadcasters. This is especially the case since the success of the inaugural KFC Big Bash League which according to MCN had an 82% increase in viewership on FOX SPORTS compared to the now defunct state-based Big Bash 2010/2011 season. The KFC BBL has now reportedly become a target of free-to-air TV.