Exclusive: BT Sport tempted to join race for ECB’s free-to-air rights – Telegraph.co.uk
The BBC was facing fresh competition from BT for the free-to-air rights to English cricket on Wednesday night as the telecoms company plotted its biggest sporting coup since landing the Champions League.
The chief executive of BT’s consumer division, John Petter, confirmed the company was “interested” in the rights to the 2020-24 seasons that were last week put out to tender by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
BT Sport had been widely expected to challenge Sky Sports for England’s Test matches and the majority of their and county teams’ other games, which are available to both pay-TV and terrestrial broadcasters, and it could yet do so.
But, like Discovery Communications, which The Sunday Telegraph last week exclusively revealed was eyeing the free-to-air-only rights, BT Sport was openly examining the same live and in-game digital packages on offer.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Petter also said that:
- BT would look at snatching the rights to the British and Irish Lions tour from Sky after this summer’s series.
- Brexit could adversely impact the value of the next domestic Premier League TV contract if Britain got a bad deal from the European Union.
- The likes of Apple, Amazon and Netflix could massively outbid BT and Sky if they ever chose to acquire those rights.
But it was cricket that was at the forefront of the mind of Petter, who was speaking moments after meeting the ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison, at BT’s headquarters.
He said: “We’re interested in the ECB. We’re following their developments. We’ve clearly met with them. And we’ll be thinking hard around what to do there.