London - English cricket's finances received a major boost
on Friday with a new TV contract netting the governing body the England and
Wales Cricket Board (ECB) over a billion pounds.
Sky Sports saw off strong competition from BT Sports for the
most expensive part of the contract retaining its position as the main rights
holder for the 2020-2024 period.
However, there was some comfort for those who have gone
years without watching live cricket on free to air television - the 2005 Ashes
was the last domestic cricket to be aired free on Channel Four.
The BBC - who last showed live cricket in 1999 but recently
showed highlights of the Champions Trophy tournament - won live broadcast
rights from 2020 for 21 matches, including men's and women's internationals and
the England and Wales Cricket Board's new Twenty20 competition.
The decision on who won the rights was taken by a five man
panel including ECB chief executive Tom Harrison and chairperson Colin Graves.
Harrison was keen to stress the breadth of coverage the deal
will bring could provoke extra interest in the sport.
There has been a fall in participation in recent years
despite huge financial investment at all levels.
"This is a great result for cricket. 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.
"Sky Sports have offered a true partnership - more than
a broadcast deal - with their shared vision for cricket.
"Here, they further increase their live commitment and
have added bold ideas to drive engagement and to help to get a bat and ball in
"BBC are valuable long-term partners, bringing cricket
to listeners, viewers and a new digital audience.
"We are delighted they will go to another level with
live coverage of international and domestic T20 - men's and women's - alongside
prime-time highlights shows and a commitment to taking the game to even wider