ECB TV rights deal with Sky and Five
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) today announced agreements with Sky Sports and Five to provide television coverage of international and county cricket in England and Wales for the period 2006-2009.
Sky Sports has gained the exclusive right to broadcast live coverage of all international and domestic cricket in England and Wales.
Within international cricket, this means Sky Sports will cover all seven home npower Test Matches as well as a minimum of 10 NatWest Series games and all International Twenty20 matches per season. It also covers the right to broadcast women’s international cricket.
Within domestic cricket, Sky Sports will cover a minimum of 31 totesport League and Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy fixtures, 14 Twenty20 Cup games and two Frizzell County Championship matches per season.
The deal will lead to more consistent scheduling of npower Test Matches from 2006 with each day's play starting at the traditional time of 11.00am. The Sky Sports deal will also guarantee live coverage of every ball of every Test Match in each season.
BSkyB has committed to extensive support programming to help ECB market cricket across cable and satellite. It will also make specific offers to county members and ECB affiliated cricket clubs for the installation of satellite dishes and for subsidised subscription fees.
Five has gained the rights to broadcast highlights of each day's play of npower Test Matches and NatWest One-Day International cricket.
Highlights from daytime cricket will be broadcast on prime-time television from 7.15pm-8.00pm, while highlights from day-night cricket will be broadcast later that night.
David Morgan, ECB Chairman, said: "The media landscape is changing fast with cable and satellite now an established and growing part of British mainstream life.
"Sky Sports, with its continually expanding subscriber base, has shown unrivalled commitment to cricket over the years and we look forward to many more years of outstanding support.
"The television deal we have struck has guaranteed uninterrupted ball-by-ball coverage of all international cricket coverage which will not be restricted by other scheduling pressures.
"We understand that the decision to place all live cricket coverage on satellite and cable television is an emotive issue for some people.
"In our negotiations, we realised the considerable challenges which face some broadcasters in the live scheduling of our sport.
"We were also keen to maximize cricket's audience to cater for the many millions of cricket followers who cannot, or choose not to, watch ball-by-ball coverage of Test cricket during the day.
"We have made an agreement that will offer the highlights package to a peaktime audience.
"Five will broadcast highlights from 7.15-8.00pm, a time which is the most popular slot for TV viewing for children and a time when an average of 21m people watch television - this compares with 5-11m average viewers during 11am-5pm.
"We are excited about developing our relationship with Five and welcome them as a new broadcast partner to cricket.
"A strong financial base for the game is essential to its future progress. The bids we accepted allow us to invest even more in the development of the England team and grass roots cricket.
"Other proposals included live coverage of some international cricket on terrestrial TV but, if accepted, they would have resulted in a significant financial shortfall for the game and it was decided that this was not in the best interest of the sport.
"This is a very good deal for cricket as it guarantees wide accessibility to watch or listen to the action and secures the future development of the game from playground to Test arena."
Five's Controller of Sport, Robert Charles, said: "I'm delighted that Five is going to be bringing the country's cricket fans prime-time highlights of England's matches.
"This is the most exciting England team for decades and by showing highlights in an early evening slot, so soon after the close of play, we'll be giving fans an almost immediate opportunity to enjoy that day's play.
"Screening highlights at this time also means younger viewers, who are critical to the future health and prosperity of the game, will be able to watch the programmes too."
Vic Wakeling, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: "Sky has been broadcasting live cricket from around the world since England's winter tour to the West Indies in 1989/1990.
"We have screened every winter of cricket played by England during that period, and have devoted an unparalleled level of coverage to the sport. We are delighted to be able to make this extra commitment to the English game at all levels.
"The past two summers have seen a huge surge in interest in cricket.
"The success of the England team has been crucial, but a new, younger audience has been attracted to the game thanks to some key initiatives, including the introduction of Twenty20 cricket and the spread of floodlit league matches.
"Sky Sports has covered action from these events live, and we have promised the ECB that we shall continue to develop live coverage and other programming which will entertain and inform Test fans of the future.
"Our audience continues to grow with 60 per cent of under 25s now living in a Pay TV home, plus over 40,000 pubs and clubs subscribers too.
"Sky's technology is amongst the best in the business, and our current commentary team includes four players who have captained England, plus a former England coach.
"We believe we can continue to bring top-class coverage of every Test match delivery to all cricket fans, old and new."
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