No cricket on terrestrial television until 2020 (at least)

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.

Hmm. Among a number of lines which rather stick in the craw:
In the last decade their loyalty and quality as a broadcasting partner has been beyond question.

Quite. Just look what happens if one of the commentators upsets the England captain.

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.

Maxie Allen


  • I no longer put up with sky sports. I refuse to pay over the odds because of the football rights. If cricket had its own subscribable channel for a lower cost I would go back, but I am not subsidising footballers anymore. I just hope we get some terrestrial highlights at some point.

  • Thought this was one of the most salient points of the Pietersen book. I got into the IPL in 2010. Why? It was on free to air.

  • “Did England only acquire their number-one test ranking because of Sky Sports?”

    Speaking of things that really stick in the craw, this is one of my favourites.

    The Oval 2005 was the culmination of a quite incredible journey that began with the booing of Nasser Hussain at The Oval in 1999 and the “Rock Bottom” headlines of the following day. All home Tests during that period were free to air. The only side that beat us in a home Test series in that period was certainly the best touring side since 1984, and possibly the best since 1948.

    Here is a list of some of the achievements of the side of 2003-05, in particular:

    – First England side to win in the Caribbean since 1967/68 (36 years)
    – First England side to win every test in a home summer since 1959 (45 years; the first ever to win more than 5 out of 5)
    – First England side to win in South Africa since 1964-65 (40 years)
    – W-L record Jul 2003 – Sep 2005 exactly the same as Flower and Strauss, Feb 2009 – Aug 2011 (the later side played three more matches, all drawn)
    – And of course, the side that regained the Ashes after 18 years
    – Finally, they were only ranked no.2 in Tests, but it was behind one of the greatest sides ever to play Test cricket… and that really is not hyperbole, is it? It puts us on a par with the Pakistan side of the late 80s who were second to the mighty West Indians of Lloyd and Richards, and even Pakistan could only draw with the Windies.

    This is my way of saying that the emphasis now placed on being ranked world number one has become absurd. The achievements listed above counted for a lot in the early-mid 2000s, especially considering the base we started from in 1999. They should still count for a lot, but I suspect that in the eyes of the ECB and Sky they don’t. It has long been a bugbear of mine that the “number one” business, and specifically the time lag built in to the rankings, has allowed an awful lot of writers to minimise the decline of the England team under Flower. Only this week Selvey wrote that the side’s progress “plateaued” in his friend’s final year. He can only get away with that because we remained no.1 until August 2012, and then won in India and were not defeated again until the Ashes debacle. The emphasis on the ranking has allowed the disastrous UAE tour and the clear signs of decline in summer 2012 to be concealed time and time again.

    I made points similar to this in a Guardian thread on Sky money in 2012. I asked people to remember where we were in 2004-05, when we had free to air home Tests. In a depressing sign of the times, one poster responded: “Bankrupt”.

    When you get responses like that, when memories of Flintoff and Trescothick and Thorpe and Giles taking 9 wickets in consecutive matches and Hoggard at Johannesburg and Harmison at Sabina and all the rest counts for less than a guarantee that we’ll be rolling in money for the foreseeable future, and when the ECB view of cricket is so faithfully reflected by so many cricket writers, it really does feel like Clarke has won a final and absolute victory.

    Sorry to be so pessimistic.

  • Cricinfo give a slightly more balanced view on the matter (and their writers generally have little concern for what the ECB think). See attached link :

    The debate isn’t all about ball-by-ball coverage (which I’m not aware the main free-to-air channels are interested in showing, even if it were available). Getting Sky to agree to make more comprehensive highlights – for both international (home and away) and domestic cricket – available on free-to-air, at a time when most people are around to watch it, would go some way to putting cricket back into the public eye.

    • It’s not often George makes me splutter, but come on:

      “willingness – a willingness we often take for granted in the UK but which is rare elsewhere – to ask the hard questions in interviews and commentary”


      Puh-lease. See also:

      Warne after something was done.
      Gower calling people on social media (who pay Sky subs and ticket prices) “lunatics and numpties”.

      I’d also add that I must have been one of the few people who never allowed the horse racing, Wimbledon or whatever to bother him in the slightest when watching a day’s cricket. In fact, I very much doubt I ever watched six solid hours without tearing my eyes away at least once. And yet it’s funny how I remember so much of what Mark Nicholas et al said in 2005, yet so very little of what any Sky commentator has said in nine summers since, isn’t it?

    • George Dobel is one of the best cricket journalists, but that was not an impressive article.
      One thing which particularly stuck in the craw was his praise of Sky’s coverage in comparison to that of the BBC thirty years ago.
      A minute’s thought would make it clear that the BBC could (for example) readily offer uninterrupted coverage today in a way which was simply not feasible back then.

      Correct to aim for balance, but that would require thinking about what FTA broadcasters like the BBC might offer today compared to Sky.

      • It was a dreadful article, sadly my thorough analysis of its many deficits did not make it past the censors.

  • According to Sky’s logic it beggars belief that an England team could ever win the 2005 Ashes series because home test matches were on cheap skate terrestrial tv.

    Sky have paid a large amount of money into the ECB. That is not in question. ( Money generated by football fans by the way. So much for so called free markets. Football has been subsidising cricket.) Whether it has been very well used by the ECB is another matter. Like Maxie I cringe when we hear all the flannel about money going to grassroots cricket. What has increased is the enormous back room staff that follows England around. This, we are told is quality coaching.Pardon me while I fall about laughing. Nearly as priceless as the ludicrous salaries that have been paid to English cricket executives and mushrooming ECB back room staff.

    Of course it is not Sky’s concern how the money is spent by the ECB. But when you get England players being made to wear stupid Hats with Sky’s logo on it to celebrate the number of Sky’s test matches I personally want to throw up. The ECB wanted this deal. It was they that lobbied the govt to have cricket taken off the protected sports list. They couldn’t contain themselves. And they sold the whole dam lot. No ODIs or anything for terrestrial broadcasters. No thought ever crossed their greedy minds about exposure of the game to a young new generation. Cricket is not played in many schools. Kids don’t get exposure to it like football. And football is clever enough to make sure there is still plenty of games on free to air TV. This is good marketing for the long term interests of the sport.

    The Cricket geniuses at the ECB unfortunately have made no such attempt at forward planning. Their lamentable record has resulted in Darts getting bigger audiences than cricket. Trouble is, outside of the Private school kids I don’t think ECB executives give a tinkers toss about increasing cricket participation. Take the money and run is the ECBs motto.

  • “No cricket on free-to-air UK television until 2020”

    Is that actually true? What about the Channel 5 highlights?

  • The bottom line is…how many people watch cricket on Sky?? My answer would be….not many! The destruction of the game continues apace!!

    • A tiny, tiny amount.
      Less than 10% of the UK have sky sports, and the vast majority of those are football fans with no interest in cricket.

      • 7 million watched England win the Ashes at the Oval in 2005 on C4. 1.9 million watched England win the Ashes at the Oval in 2009, on Sky. But they usually get far fewer than that.

      • 1.3m for the home series Ashes in 2013, I think.

        That any subscription broadcaster should be able to lock out all competition from one of our national games, for a decade at a time, is insupportable.

        • Absolutely. But Murdoch likes the monopoly model. Or as he calls it “exclusivity.” He gets to do the competing on price when he buys the rights. Not the customer. The customer is faced with a monopolist gate keeper who can sit back and do absolutely no competing for 3-5 years. Unlike a retailer who has to compete hourly with his competitors.

          He also uses a high price, low subscription model rather than a low price high subscription base. ( if he halved the price and doubled the subscribers he would receive the same revenue.) But that is not a model he prefers.

          It is not a free market, and Murdoch does not want one. The last thing the monopolist wants is open competition for the customer. Much better to use your financial and political muscle to eliminate any competition. And then sit back and enjoy being a the only gatekeeper.

          • He’s happy to lose money on overpaying for cricket, because it deprives any potential competitors of having anything to show and maintains his monopolistic position. Its a textbook example of entry deterrence by upstream vertical restraint, oligopoly theory 101.

            You read about them in economic textbooks, but the textbooks say no western government would ever allow such flagrant anti-competitive practice.

  • I don’t think Sky suddenly took the contract out of the drawer and decided to take up their option just because the county chairmen were reportedly talking about free-to-air.
    It must have been a done deal for some time. And I didn’t get the impression the county chairmen were discussing taking any of the existing coverage away from Sky, presumably they knew that wasn’t on the cards.

    What they were talking about, I think, was exploiting a loophole in this bit:
    County matches – at least 60 days of domestic cricket each summer covering each of the major competitions and featuring every county
    So Sky has the right to show a range of county cricket, but it doesn’t seem to have the exclusive rights to all televising of the domestic game.

    The idea that Nick Hoult reported before was for the counties to put together a highlights package from county cricket that could be on free-to-air. I guess this would have to be from matches that Sky hadn’t chosen to cover, so basically, serving up Sky’s leftovers in an appetising way, kind of like bubble-and-squeak.

    It doesn’t sound like much, but given that kids are growing up with as much connection to cricket as they have to croquet, it would be worth doing IMO.

    • sky show less than 50% of the T20 cricket, that still leaves plenty of choice if you wanted to persuade a freeview channel to carry one game a week. I imagine most channels would snap it up, even a small proportion of the country’s cricket fans would be a significant increase in the viewer figures for the majority of freeview channels.

      You could probably even show different games to different areas of the country to try and build up a local fan base.

    • A good question in Australian the Ten Network paid $A 100 million to broadcast the Big Bash for five year. Now I know cricket has more mass appeal in Australia than in England but it is a smaller market. And oh this is only the BB. I aassume CA got a lot more for the rights to tests and ODIs

    • compared to the billions (no exaggeration) they are losing in expected future revenues from all the fans they are not attracting by keeping cricket off mainstream tv, its an absolute pittance. They’re throwing money away. They’re throwing cricket away.

  • ” One prominent national paper even made the position of cricket correspondent redundant.”
    He would’nt be referring to Pringle at the Telegraph would he ?

  • The “old farts” at the RFU have played a much cannier game than the ECB here. Leaving the Six Nations on the BBC while the Autumn Internationals and Lions make the lucrative Sky cash seems to be getting the balance right. Depending on one source for 90% of your revenue is getting it all wrong.

    Something else they’ve got right is adding rugby sevens to the Olympics. This ensures coverage specifically on the BBC (sometimes there is an assumption Free-to-Air means the BBC or C4 – it could well mean an obscure Freeview channel) and was a great success at the Commonwealth games. A reminder who was against T20 in the Olympics and why:

  • What depressing news… I was hoping for a revamped 20 over format on terrestrial tv, at least somewhere in the future.

    Are England alone in selling their rights exclusively to a subscription service? Be interested to know the tv rights in other countries.

  • Many thanks for alll your excellent and thought-provoking comments.

    A few further thoughts and responses.

    – Highlights schmighlights. Cricket needs to be *live* on free to air television. Highlights are a poor substitute for the real thing, Do you think 2005 would have had the same impact if most of the population had only seen a recorded summary, after they already knew what had happened?

    – Putting county T20 highlights on FTA, is frankly, a load of complete bollocks. A pathetic sop. What we need is England, and test cricket. Live.

    – The quality and breadth Sky may offer is only relevant if you can afford it. Millions of households cannot. Ultimately there’s no point having a national sport unless you do your darnedest to ensure as many people can see it as possible.

    – How does anyone expect children to develop an interest in the game unless they get to watch it? As George D said, a one-off Chance To Shine roadshow is very small beer compared to watching heroic England performances and a gripping test series narrative.

    – A part of me hates CTS because it smacks of a sop. “Once we’ve flogged the game to Sky we’d better send a few coaches round the playgrounds with some tennis balls to make it look like we give a shit”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure much of it is very well motivated and any exposure to cricket is worthwhile, but I’m sceptical about whether CTS has much more substance than a cosmetic exercise.

    – The Premiership may be exclusively live on Sky but there has always been plenty of live football FTA, including the Champs League, FA Cup, and, crucially, England, European Championships and World Cups.

    – Boxing used to be a massive sport in this country. What’s happened to it since it’s been exclusively on Sky?

    – It’s true that neither the BBC nor C4 have shown much interest in re-signing cricket, but nowadays, as Simon says, any company could set up a Freeview channel, but the cricket, and show it for free.

    – It would help if test cricket were once again ‘listed’ as a sport which must be shown FTA. It was de-listed in 1998 as a result of intense lobbying by the ECB, since when they’ve lobbied very hard against every political effort to re-list. The ECB do not really want us to watch cricket.

    • Even if just the home Ashes were FTA would be huge. It would make it our unofficial world cup for Eng test cricket and the anticiaption of it only coming around every 4 years would make it so marketable.

      I really do fear for the long term state of test cricket.

    • highlights are a waste of time. However, I do think having a regular county T20 match would get plenty of viewers and be a decent substitute for England.

    • Agree 100% Maxie… I’ve often wondered how much the rights for so-called ‘lesser sports’ such as Horse Racing, Darts, Snooker, Tennis (and dare I say) Rugby are sold for? Is it case of selling to the highest bidder and Sky are keener than the Beeb or have the ECB out-priced the rest of the market?

      Either way it’s not going to help raise the popularity of cricket as a participating sport.

  • One way of looking at this is from a purely financial point of view. If the ECB were a private company, would they be more or less valuable now than they were in 2005?

    The answer, obviously, is significantly less valuable. Their value as an organisation is dependent on their expected future ticket sales and tv audience, and that is directly proportionate to the size and enthusiasm of the fan base and (amateur) player base, and by allowing both to decrease in such catastrophic terms, they have effectively lost far, far more real terms value than the cash they have received from Sky over the same time period.

    Its gross financial mismanagement on a criminal scale.

    • “If the ECB were a private company, would they be more or less valuable now than they were in 2005?

      The answer, obviously, is significantly less valuable.”

      Yes – this must surely be behind the move to oust Giles Clarke. People are looking at the numbers, especially the attendance and participation, and getting scared.

      Fans and supporters constitute the real value of the organisation – who knew?

  • Sky not only shows every single ball of every England home test, ODI and T20 (which no free-to-air channel ever did, not even during the final session of 2005 Ashes), but actually Sky shows every single ball of every AWAY England test, ODI and T20.

    And not just England games, Sky show live ball-by-ball coverage of every test, ODI, T20 played in Australia, South Africa, India, West Indies, New Zealand. No free-to-air channel would ever show any such action. Sky also shows Big Bash league, Caribbean Premier League, SA domestic cricket, and soon Indian Premier League. To go with their excellent county coverage.

    Heck no free-to-air channel ever showed willingness to show the World Cup cricket or away Ashes series, let alone all the other superb cricket from around the globe.

    If you live in England, and you claim to be a “cricket fan”, not just a snobby football-hating hipster — then you have to subscribe to Sky. That’s irrespective of home England cricket rights being on FTA or not.

    This blog is populated by Labour-voting, left-wing, Grauniad-reading, Murdoch-haters who couldn’t care less about actually watching a game of cricket — but uses the cool ECB-hatred as a means to push their left-wing agenda. No wonder someone above mentioned they weren’t bothered by Horse-racing/Lip-reading etc interrupting thrilling moments of Ashes 2005. Why would you be bothered, when you don’t have any actual interest in the game of cricket?

    • You should go and work for the ECB. They are full of pompous, selfish reactionary “I’ve got mine f**k the rest of you brigade?” You’d fit right in.

      But thanks for playing. It’s always fascinating to hear the latest intellectual thinking of the lizard brain.. I wasn’t aware that you could only enjoy sport if you are a right wing Tory loving simpleton. Talk about delusions of grandeur. But then your sort only think certain people should govern the country. So no surprise to see a similar narrow view towards sport. The arrogance is breathtaking but not surprising.

      Of course you completely ignore the bigger issue which is that a whole generation has missed out on any cricket coverage. Attendances are falling, and many youngsters don’t even know cricket exists. County teams are stuffed with foreign born players and privately educated English born Tim nice but dims. But I am sure that is not a matter that bothers people like you. Because in your world only the wealth off are of any importance. You even tell us so……………”If you live in England, and you claim to be a “cricket fan”, — then you have to subscribe to Sky.”

      The notion that many people just can’t afford to do so would be lost on someone like you. But that is the world of the Tory elitist today. Pay up or you are not a real fan. Interesting that some Sky pundits has started to criticise fans who don’t attend football matches now because they can’t afford it. How similar to the debate over the bailing out of the bankers. The freeloading elite blame the poor for not spending money they haven’t got while all the time wallowing in their corporate welfare and tax free hand outs.

    • Good grief ! Are you for real ? I can only speak for myself, but here goes…
      I played cricket for thirty odd years until bits of me started wearing out.
      I have watched cricket for 60 odd years.
      I don’t read the Grauniad.
      I don’t vote Labour.
      I am not left wing.
      I enjoy watching football .
      I like being called a hipster – I am 70 years old
      “You have to subscribe to Sky”- I can afford to, but a lot of people cannot.
      I don’t “hate” Murdoch – I dislike News Corporation’s business practices.
      I do consider myself to be a cricket fan – and one who is capable of reasoned – and reasonable – discussion.

    • Basing their comparisons on what tv was like 10-15 years ago before the advent of freeview is the sure sign of an idiot or a troll.

      Why don’t you compare a broadband service today with a dial up service from the early 90s? It would be about as applicable.

    • Without any popular interest or participation cricket in England is dying enjoy the last few years but in 20 years test cricket will be over and the fact that in England Murdoch has turned it into a minority dead end will be a big cause, ps I have never voted anything but Tory and went to public school and Oxford, telling the truth about what Murdoch has done to cricket does not mean you are an anarchist or a socialist.

  • Simply not as easy of “just having a free view channel for it” from a bandwidth point of view and what you then do with that channel when there is no crciket.

    channel 4 did have a free view channel for it, 2 in fact in Film 4 and E4 and they still subjected us to horse racing….

    but such tiresome and riducluous nitpicking pedantry on my part aside I broadly agree. I can both praise Sky’s coverage for being largely excellent but also bemoan the fact that that all England internationals and our doemstic T20 competition are hidden completely behind paywalls.

    I don’t blame the broadcasters, this is squarely the fault of the games adminstrators.

    Being a working class lefty from Essex, I don’t much care for Rugby Union on msiconceived class basis, but they’ve got it right when it comes to how they’ve split their broadcast rights – 6 nations and world cups on FTA, club rugby on BT, autumn internationals on Sky. Getting both lots of cash but regular exposure to the great unwashed.

    Surely finals day of T20 could be simulcast on Sky channels and an ad free FTA channel to protect ad revenues, likewise at the very least either one home test per series or the Saturday & Sunday, or an ODI sereies, christ knows there’s enough of them.

    Ultimately, given the scheduling commitment that cricket in all forms bar T20 requires, its wishful thinking to expect full coverage on FTA. The only sporting events that require 6 hours plus of coverage are the Olypmics and that’s not really a fair comparsion.

    That’s why if the ECB/counties don’t use T20 as the one thing they broadcast for free they’re beyond stupid.

    Basically I agree with the orginal post.

  • Everybody seems to be assuming that there are FTA broadcasters willing to commit the considerable resources required to cover cricket. A possible 35 days of test cricket (7 hours a day), 10 ODIs and at least 3 20/20s just to cover England will be considerably more expensive than the usual diet of cookery/antique buying/house buying/decorating/quiz programmes that the BBC/ITV/C4 currently fill their daytime schedules with and the county game would be even less attractive.
    I fell for cricket in the 70s watching test matches in the school holidays and I’d love to see cricket back on FTA but I don’t see it happening.
    Does anybody know whether the BBC or other FTA broadcasters have expressed any desire to get cricket back from Sky?

    • A couple of cameras and a few cheap talking heads, vs millions in advertising revenue from the thirtyfold increase in viewer figures.

  • A couple of cameras aren’t going to satisfy viewers or the DRS obligations of host broadcasters.
    Where is the thirtyfold increase in viewer figures coming from? Is half the working population of the country suddenly going to start loving cricket? Are they all going to phone in a sickie and stay at home?

    • Do you KNOW what the average daytime tv figures are for the majority of freeview channels? Most of them are glad to get four figures. A thirty fold increase is actually a vast underestimate.

      • …and how will these channels with such a small current audience (and presumably therefore minimal advertising revenue) be able to afford the costs associated with a number of large outside broadcasts each summer (or paying a production company to do it on their behalf) together with the salaries of the major names that would be needed to front the broadcast?
        I want cricket on FTA as much as anybody but it seems optimistic to assume that broadcasters are lining up to take over from Sky

        • You’re not really particularly au fait with how corporate financing deals work, are you?

          If sky’s monopoly was broken by the government tomorrow, there would be 4-5 different organisations lining up to take on English cricket. The winner would get a bargain too, and it would be a far better deal financially for the ECB, even if they didn’t receive a single penny.

          • Colin Graves quoted in the Daily Telegraph…

            “Everybody is right and it would be nice to have some cricket on terrestrial television but the problem we have got is terrestrial television does not want cricket, it certainly does not want Test cricket,” said Graves. “I would love to get cricket on terrestrial television in one format or another but at the same time I want to work with Sky. They have been fantastic for cricket. We have to get best of all worlds but if you have terrestrial broadcasters that don’t want cricket then what can you do?”

            He really should have checked with you first

            • He should have bought half a brain off the internet before opening his mouth. He’s only been in the job ten minutes and its already clear he’s not up to it.

  • I know I am late to the party with this one, but one angle that I don’t think anyone has covered above (apologies if wrong!):

    It could be much, much worse. That Sky has extended the option has really heartened me that the new regime are up for a change. Extending the option (which I was very disheartened to see offered back in 2012) was the least that Sky could do. There would be no circumstance that Sky was not, at the very least, going to extend the option. They would not want to enter a bidding process at this point, not with BT Sport snapping up rights, nor with the counties’ current desire for FTA (oh, how things change – 10 years ago the county chairmen were delighted with the newly-announced Sky deal – I remember a particularly offensive comment from the then-chairman of Derbyshire, I think it was).

    But Sky could have used the option and their influence at the ECB to extend their contract beyond the option and extend by another four or five years. This is a strategy that Sky has been using consistently since BT’s emergence on the market. They did it with the Football League (also agreeing to sponsor the league), they have done it with the Rugby League, and they have also looked to do it with Rugby Union.

    There is no way that Sky would not have investigated doing something similar with the ECB contract – they would have not taken up the option, but instead offered to pay more than the option would oblige them to for those two years and continue for another two or three seasons beyond that. I do not doubt for a second that Sky would not have lobbied the ECB for this. That the ECB have resisted this approach is *great* news in my eyes. It shows that 2018, or whenever the rights post-2019 will be decided, the ECB want to have a clean slate and look at things again. I’m not saying that Sky are out of the picture – of course not – but it would have been very easy for the ECB to go along the same lines as the last decade at this point, and for Sky to be announcing a 5 year contract extension.

    But they’re not. Of course Sky were going to exercise the option – but thank goodness that’s all they are doing. I want cricket FTA as much as the next man (more so, probably, this has been a major hobby horse of mine for 10 years now!) and this extension actually points really positively for that to happen in the future.

  • I’m late to this but can i just say i agree with everything AB has said above.
    Over at Dmitri’s an Aussie poster pointed out that the reason why the BB is a hit is that it is on a FTA channel same time evry night.

  • I got into cricket via watching Channel 4 cricket in the late 90s, early 00s in dribs and drabs but in sustained my interest for the game. Ashes 2005 got me hooked on cricket. The ECB needs to realize that Sky money is not the only way of bringing in a revenue stream, there alternatives. I have found that the whole thing about Sky supporting grassroots cricket as nonsense. The club that I play for recently had new nets that were paid for by Sport England and another club near me had new nets put in after money was given to them by Natwest, when it was one of the main sponsors of the England side. I’m sure that the ECB would make just as much if not more money if they moved towards a more sponsorship and advertising based financial system. However I do think that cricket is gradually starting to regain some form of interest among FTA broadcasters, particularly ITV with their recent coverage of the IPL and Cricket World Cup. Yes it was a bit thin and gruel but it was substantial enough and I honestly think they will probably be looking into gaining more coverage of the the game now that they have lost Champions League football. If they had either domestic T20 coverage they could show weekday coverage on ITV4 and weekend coverage on ITV1 as they did with the Tour de France and with Test Matches they could show Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s coverage on ITV4 and Saturday and Sunday on ITV1. I think this could be viable within the next few years, FTA broadcasters just need to realise that there still is the market for mass market cricket coverage in the UK.

    • Great idea. Hope it happens soon. Improvements are happpening as the 2016 CPL broadcast a few matches and Channel 5 is broadcasting 5 BBL matches

  • Just makes me giggle the way all the suits line up to talk about new and average fans.. Money is all they will ever work for tut tut for English sport at all levels. Manolo, Cambridge..

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