Agreement sees further free-to-air coverage added

BSA - Hundred hero

Sky Sports has extended its broadcast deal with the ECB for another four years, until the end of 2028.

The pay-TV broadcaster will allow more games to be shown free-to-air in the new deal, with the Blast, Hundred, and women’s international cricket among the beneficiaries. It showed England cricket live exclusively between 2005 and 2019, with free-to-air windows being opened occasionally since then. 

This new agreement adds to the current deal, which had been set to end in 2025. As part of this announcement, Sky revealed that the recent Men’s Test series against New Zealand and the 2020 series against the West Indies are their two most watched series on record, a promising sign of growth for the game.

Overall, 134m more hours of ECB cricket were watched in 2021 compared to 2017, while a new high of 14 million people played, attended or followed cricket in 2021 - an increase of three million since 2019.

This deal sees England Women gain a defined commitment for the first time, including two free-to-air T20s. In addition, a a minimum of eight women’s matches in The Hundred will be shown on terrestrial TV, up from a minimum two in the previous agreement. The BBC is yet to confirm if it will continue as the free-to-air partner of The Hundred past 2025.

On the men’s side there will be greater exposure for another T20 competition, the Blast. 50% more group games will be broadcast each season, and one game-per round will be live streamed on the Sky Sports Cricket YouTube channel for free.

The Blast will also have rights for counties to stream every group game on their own platforms and a new weekly highlights show to be broadcast on terrestrial television.

Overall, there will be 90 extra hours of live cricket guaranteed on TV each year. In addition, this deal sees an increase on investment from Sky on the last agreement.

Clare Connor, ECB interim chief executive officer, said: “Sky have been fantastic partners for cricket for over 30 years. Their broadcast coverage is rightly lauded as the best in the world, but more significantly than that we have a shared commitment to growing the sport and investing in more opportunities not only for people to watch and follow cricket in all its forms, but also to pick up a bat and ball.

“Thanks to Sky and the support of other partners, we saw a record 14 million people playing, attending or following cricket in 2021. This year alone, 10,000 children will get the chance to have a free taste of cricket through Sky Dynamos Intros, while many, many more will benefit from facilities and opportunities to play which are only possible because of Sky’s investment. It shows this media rights model is working, and we are very grateful for Sky’s ongoing support.

“We have worked closely with the wider game and our First-Class Counties to agree this new deal with Sky, which will see not only more live women’s and men’s cricket on Sky, but also more on free to air TV as well. I would like to place on record our thanks to the First Class County Chairs, to all of the Sky teams involved and to ECB colleagues including Tony Singh and Tom Harrison, who have played the central role in delivering this outstanding result for cricket.

“Our shared values and vision with Sky will make cricket accessible to even more people over the coming years and will use the power of sport to inspire the next generation, while safeguarding the wonderful traditions which are such a key part of our game.”

Stephen van Rooyen, EVP and CEO of UK and Europe for Sky, added: “This is an exciting time for English cricket and we’re thrilled to be furthering our long and successful partnership with the ECB. Together we will continue to help grow the game while boosting participation in the sport by children from all backgrounds through initiatives like our Dynamos Cricket Intros.

“On screen, we will continue to push boundaries in our BAFTA-winning coverage, bringing Sky Sports viewers even more live action from 2025 - including more women’s cricket than ever before - with men’s and women’s England internationals and domestic cricket. Sky’s investment over the last 30 years has contributed to a great deal of success on the pitch, and we hope to be at the forefront of much more to come.”