The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is restructuring its broadcast rights to reflect the new segmentation of the sport into different formats. The move may see a return to terrestrial television for some elements of the game.
The ECB broadcast contracts come up for renewal next year, including its current deal with BSkyB. The deal, worth 220m over four years, gives Sky Sports exclusive rights for live Test cricket for home England matches until the end of the 2009 season. It was criticised by many England cricket fans, as it meant the end of terrestrial TV coverage for the sport.
The ECB says broadcast rights for the new English Premier League (EPL), scheduled to launch in 2010, could be sold off separately, as could rights for Test matches, one-day internationals and future coverage of the Ashes. Sky Sports’ current deal covers the 2009 Ashes series.
The ECB sees the EPL, which will use the shorter Twenty20 game in a league involving county club sides, as a commercially attractive prospect and is aiming to establish it as a major brand.
The ECB announced this week that it has received a “lucrative offer”, believed to be from the Abu Dhabi royal family, to stage a Twenty20 champion’s league, involving the top club sides from various countries.