English cricket will return to the BBC for the first time in more than two decades, with Sky Sports holding off the challenge of BT Sports to extend its coverage of the sport for at least another seven years, after the ECB announced the results of its broadcasting auction for 2020-2024.
The new deal, worth £1.1 billion over a five-year period, cements Sky Sports’ position as the home of live cricket broadcasting in England and Wales, a role they have held since becoming the ECB’s exclusive broadcast partner in 2006.
However, the return of the BBC to live cricket broadcasting for the first time since 1999 is a recognition of the sport’s need to re-engage with a wider audience.
From 2020, they will broadcast two men’s and one women’s T20 internationals per year, as well as ten matches from the ECB’s new domestic T20 competition, and eight from the women’s. They have also extended their radio broadcasting deal, and secured primetime evening highlights and digital clip rights.
“This is a great result for cricket,” Tom Harrison, the ECB chairman, said. “ECB has secured the reach, revenue and relevance the game deserves, to help it to grow.
“Together, these new deals will deliver the partnership, distribution and investment that will fuel the future of our game, driving recreational, professional and international cricket for years to come.
“Right through this process we’ve been excited to witness a fresh approach to the game and what it offers. This has transformed our relationships and our media deals. I want to thank everyone who has talked with us, shown their enthusiasm and added to our vision for the future.”
Colin Graves, ECB Chairman, added: “Through these exceptional new partnerships with Sky Sports and BBC we have a unique opportunity to give cricket a very bright future.
“It is vital that the game now takes time to plan ahead and invest strategically in all the right places. The ECB Board will lead on this, working closely with all of our stakeholders at every level of the game.
“The professional players – the men and women who entertain us, inspire people to play and draw us to the grounds – will rightly be part of these conversations.”