The BBC and the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have agreed a new five-year, strategic partnership that brings live cricket back to BBC TV for the first time in 21 years.
The deal, which runs from 2020 to 2024, sees the BBC become the exclusive, free-to-air home for cricket. Cricket will take centre stage across all BBC platforms to ensure the sport reaches the widest possible audience.
The deal involves live TV coverage of two England men’s international T20 matches, one England women’s T20 international plus live TV coverage of 10 men’s matches from the ECB’s New T20 competition, and up to eight live matches from the women’s T20 tournament including both Finals.
The BBC will also broadcast primetime TV highlights of England men’s home international matches. In total, there will be over 100 hours of cricket back on BBC TV from 2020.
“The BBC is delighted. And the public will be too,” commented Director General, Tony Hall. “It’s long been our ambition to bring live cricket back to BBC television. I’m thrilled to see that ambition realised. Cricket is an integral part of the British summer and the BBC will be putting its full weight behind the nation’s favourite summer sport. Our aim will be to make the new T20 competition a huge success. Existing cricket fans – and the millions more who will discover a new love of cricket – have a huge amount to look forward to.”
In addition, the BBC has retained exclusive, live national radio rights to English cricket, a fitting way to celebrate Test Match Special’s 60th birthday this year. The iconic and much-loved ’TMS’ will continue to deliver ball-by-ball commentary of all England men’s internationals alongside an expanded commitment to the women’s game.
The BBC has also re-secured an extensive package of digital clip rights to the English cricketing summer building on a service viewed more than 30 million times last year. Live audio commentaries from every match of the County cricket season will also be available on the BBC Sport website – almost 4000 hours per year.
Since its introduction by the ECB in 2003, T20 cricket has spread around the globe. The fast-paced thrill of the short form game coupled with the BBC’s wealth of experience in showcasing major sporting events ensures cricket fans can look forward to an innovative, fresh and exciting new viewing experience. The BBC’s coverage will have great cricket at the heart of great entertainment.
“This will lead to a step change in the BBC’s coverage of cricket across TV, radio and digital platforms,” suggested Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport. “We are extremely excited about what we have to offer by taking cricket to the widest possible audience and inspiring the next generation to pick up bat and ball. With 97 per cent of the UK population using the BBC every week, the potential for growing the game further is huge.”
“BBC are valuable long-term partners, bringing cricket to listeners, viewers and a new digital audience,” added Tom Harrison, Chief Executive Officer of ECB. “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 audiences.”
In 2016, the BBC accounted for a market-leading 41 per cent of TV sports audiences bringing the nation together around the biggest sporting events. International cricket will join an extensive sporting portfolio that includes the Olympic Games, the World Cup, European Football Championships, Match of the Day, Wimbledon, the FA Cup and the 6 Nations.