Live cricket is returning to BBC television for the first time in 21 years.
A new deal between the BBC and the England and Wales Cricket Board, which runs from 2020 to 2024, will see the national broadcaster air live TV coverage of two England men’s international T20 matches.
Meanwhile, Sky Sports has also announced that they will continue to be the home of cricket in the UK, with live rights to every England international and domestic fixture until 2024.
The BBC’s deal also includes one England women’s T20 international, TV coverage of 10 men’s matches from the ECB’s new domestic T20 competition, and up to eight live matches from the women’s T20 tournament. Live Test Match Special radio coverage will also continue.
The BBC has also managed to secure TV highlights for all of England men’s home international matches, meaning that there will be more than 100 hours of cricket on BBC TV from 2020.
Currently the highlights show airs on Channel 5 – the BBC tells RadioTimes.com that it is not clear at this stage whether the new highlights programme will be made by BBC Sport or whether independent producers can pitch for the contract to make the show.
If the BBC make the highlights show in-house this could mean an end to the current Channel 5 format from producer Sunset+Vine, which features the familiar faces of Mark Nicholas and analyst Simon Hughes.
BBC Director General, Tony Hall said, “The BBC is delighted. And the public will be too. 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.”
The news comes on the same day that that Sky announced it has fought off a bid from BT Sport to keep live coverage of England’s home tests for the next seven years.
This means that Sky’s established order of Mike Atherton, Ian Botham, David Gower and co will continue to be familiar faces to England cricket fans on pay TV.
The new deal also covers live rights to international and county cricket from 2020 until 2024 – including every match from the new T20 competition – and a new commitment to drive participation and further interest in the game.
Sky had feared that it might lose the home Test matches to its rival BT Sport, which has already swooped for all of Australia’s homes Tests including the crucial 2017-18 Ashes series with England.