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Although the BBC seems to be shedding sports that were one seen as its mainstays, with the loss of Formula 1, horse racing and exclusive coverage of the Open Golf Championship, it has responded to the increasing demand to follow sports online by agreeing a four-year digital rights deal for international cricket that will see the BBC Sport website cover all major events sanctioned by world cricket’s governing body the International Cricket Council ICC), starting with immediate effect and going through to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, which will be hosted by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
The deal gives the BBC rights to show video clips (up to six minutes per hour of play), end of day round-ups, digital preview programming features and archive material in the UK. The agreement includes the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016 (27 January – 14 February), ICC World Twenty20 India 2016 (8 March-3 April), ICC Champions Trophy 2017 (1-19 June), ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 (4-27 August), ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2018 (12 January-4 February), ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier (1 March-4 April) and the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2018 and culminates in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 (30 May – 15 July).
The announcement sees the BBC build its overall cricket offer, which already includes the iconic Test Match Special commentary on radio and hugely popular text coverage on the website. Video clips will be used to enhance the coverage of ICC events on all digital platforms, through mobile alerts and an enhanced live page.
Barbara Slater, Director BBC Sport, said the deal was all about free-to-air accessibility and bringing the best of cricket to as wide an audience as possible across the UK. “There is a strong appetite among audiences for the sport and we’re looking forward to helping deliver them the best of the action from these major events through to the 2019 Cricket World Cup. The online rights will complement our live radio commentary portfolio and popular online offering, giving UK audiences video of the best of the action wherever they are.”
Giles Clarke, Chairman of ICC’s Finance and Commercial Affairs Committee, said that as the United Kingdom would be host to three important ICC Events between 2017 and 2019, the deal confirmed the ICC’s enthusiasm and commitment to take its events to all its fans irrespective of where they are in the United Kingdom and how they are following these tournaments.
“I have no doubts that this partnership will take cricket coverage to a completely new level and will benefit both the ICC as well as the BBC, with cricket being the ultimate winner,” he declared.