The Ashes highlights are likely to be screened on terrestrial television after all, after ITV made a late bid to land the rights from Cricket Australia.
BBC has consistently declined to place a bid, arguing that the £1 million (E1.14m) price tag was too high. There was also a scheduling issue: the contract for live coverage on Sky TV stipulated that the highlights show could only be screened after 10pm, shortly before the next day’s play was due to begin. But Cricket Australia has reportedly dropped its asking price and ITV, which had unexpected success with the Indian Premier League, attracting more than 500,000 viewers to ITV4, has declared an interest.
Although the deal has not been finalised, industry insiders expect it to go ahead in the next few days, with production facilities supplied by IMG. If confirmed, the news will reassure cricket-lovers without access to Sky Sports, who would otherwise have had to seek out online footage on the England and Wales Cricket Board’s website.