Live cricket returns to BBC TV for the first time in a generation
The BBC and ECB today announced a new five-year, strategic partnership that brings live cricket back to BBC TV for the first time in 21 years.
It’s long been our ambition to bring live cricket back to BBC television. I’m thrilled to see that ambition realised.
The deal, which runs from 2020 to 2024, sees the nation’s favourite broadcaster become the exclusive, free to air home for cricket. The BBC runs the most popular TV, radio and digital sports services in the UK, and cricket will take centre stage across all 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.
Director General Tony Hall says: “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.”
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 4,000 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.
Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, says: “This will lead to a step change in the BBC’s coverage of cricket across TV, radio and digital platforms. 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 percent of the UK population using the BBC every week, the potential for growing the game further is huge.”
Tom Harrison, Chief Executive Officer of ECB, says: “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 audiences.”
Last year the BBC accounted for a market-leading 41 percent 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.