Yesterday we talked about the impending coronation of Colin Graves as ECB chairman. In breaking the story, the Telegraph’s Nick Hoult reported that the county chairmen – who want to ditch Giles Clarke in favour of Graves – are also set to discuss a partial restoration of live cricket on terrestrial television.
But now that can’t happen until 2020 at the earliest. Sky Sports today announced they are exercising an option in their ECB contract to extend their broadcast rights for a further two years – 2018-19.
There has already been some insightful discussion on our comments boards about cricket on terrestrial television, for which thank you.
Sky’s press release is worth quoting virtually in full:
Sky Sports has extended its broadcast partnership with the England & Wales Cricket Board until 2019, increasing its unrivalled commitment to English cricket for a further two years.The agreement offers cricket fans unprecedented coverage of England home fixtures, county matches, women’s and age grade cricket, and will take the existing partnership into its 14th year.The deal also enables English cricket to continue its record levels of investment at all levels of the game, which have since 2006 helped to transform the sport on pitch and off, including England becoming the number one Test team in the world.Sky Sports viewers can enjoy a further two years of BAFTA award-winning coverage offering:
- Test Matches – all of England’s Test matches played at home, including series against Pakistan and India in 2018 and the Ashes in 2019
- Internationals – all One-Day Internationals and T20 matches, including Australia in 2018 and Pakistan in 2019, as well as some women’s and England Lions matches
- County matches – at least 60 days of domestic cricket each summer covering each of the major competitions and featuring every county
Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, commented: “We’re passionate about our commitment to the game, including the men and women’s England teams and the County set up, and we’re delighted to extend our partnership with the ECB. Since 2006, our viewers have enjoyed the incredible successes of the England team, including three Ashes victories, winning the ICC World Twenty20 and becoming the number one Test team in the world. We look forward to continuing the partnership until at least 2019.”
Brian Havill, the ECB Acting Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that Sky have taken up their option to extend their broadcasting contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board to 2019 as it demonstrates their belief in the ECB as well as the international, women’s and county game. This decision continues Sky’s unwavering commitment to cricket in England and Wales at every level for a further two years.
“In the last decade their loyalty and quality as a broadcasting partner has been beyond question and has benefited the game in so many ways. In that period there has been an unprecedented level of investment in the county game, including facilities, the grassroots, particularly coaching, and of course the England men’s and women’s teams.
“Now in this, Sky’s 10th season as the exclusive live broadcaster, that determination to support the game shines through with the announcement that every ball of the England women’s Ashes series will be shown live.”
This extension further cements Sky Sports’ position as the home of cricket, giving viewers a year-round global schedule, that as well as England internationals and domestic cricket, includes cricket from Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies, as well as over 60 IPL matches for the first time this year and international cricket’s biggest events through the ICC rights, including the ICC World Cup in February.
Today’s announcement will allow the ECB to continue to deliver record investment across all levels of the recreational, first-class and international game. Since 2006, when Sky became the ECB’s principal live TV broadcast partner, over £150m has been invested to help strengthen the game, by improving international, First Class and local facilities, as well recruiting over 45,000 more grassroots coaches and over 2m state school children to take up the game.
During this time, the men and women’s England teams have enjoyed unrivalled success on the pitch, with the men becoming the number 1 Test side in the world, winning three out of the last four Ashes series, and the ICC World Twenty20, and last summer Sky Sports showed its 200th live England Test. The investment has allowed the England women’s team to be awarded professional contracts for the first time, as well as also reaching number 1 in the world and winning the World Cup.
In the last decade their loyalty and quality as a broadcasting partner has been beyond question.
But the loyalty flows more strongly in the other direction. To mark the channel’s two hundredth live England test, the ECB turned last summer’s Oval test into an advert for Sky Sports.
More offensive than any of that, though, is the notion that Sky’s cash is the difference between England succeeding or failing.
[Sky have] benefited the game in so many ways…an unprecedented level of investment in the county game, including facilities, the grassroots, particularly coaching.The deal also enables English cricket to continue its record levels of investment at all levels of the game, which have since 2006 helped to transform the sport on pitch and off, including England becoming the number one Test team in the world.
Did England only acquire their number-one test ranking because of Sky Sports? It had nothing to do with the players? Perhaps, at post-match presentations, in future they should hand the man-of-the-match award straight to Barney Francis.
What about the grassroots funding? In all my years of running village teams and writing about the game, I’ve never encountered a player nor club who’ve seen a penny of ECB cash. Have you? Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that grants are principally given to elite clubs, and money rarely reaches young cricketers outside the established system.
The reference to two million state school children taking up the game is very disingenuous. Chance To Shine have now taken their outreach work to two million children, but Chance To Shine is run by the Cricket Foundation charity, not the ECB. The ECB only give CTS £1.25 million a year; the rest of their funding comes from the likes of Sport England and the MCC.
Those two million children have only participated in a CTS event. That figure does not represent the number who have taken up cricket on a serious, ongoing basis.
Speaking of Sport England, it’s actually they, not the ECB, who cough up the reddies for investment in community cricket facilities and projects. The ECB like to tell you how generous they are, thanks to Sky. In reality they do everything they can to avoid opening their own wallets.
Exactly how much are Sky paying for the extra two years? I put that question to their press office. They declined to disclose the sums.
As Dmitri Old pointed out, on the Colin Graves thread, this announcement has come one day after Nick Hoult’s report on the prospect of county pressure to restore cricket on terrestrial television. Sky have moved swiftly to kill it off.
A faceless group of county chairmen carving out deals in a hotel conference room. A Sky executive flicking a contractual switch. This is how English cricket is run.