England news March 18, 2016

Live cricket included on new free Sky channel

ESPNcricinfo staff

Negotiations for the next TV rights deal are a prority for the ECB © Getty Images

Cricket fans who complain vociferously about the absence of live cricket on free-to-air TV might find mild consolation in Sky TV's announcement that they intend to launch a new channel to showcase their live sports package to all their subscribers.

Sky have confirmed that live cricket will occasionally be among those sports made available to all their 12-million plus subscribers. Slightly less than half take out a sports package for an additional fee.

Sky Sports Mix is seen as offering an extra inducement for its subscribers not to leave Sky in favour of rivals such as BT Sport or Virgin.

Most attention has been given to Sky's promise that it will air a number of live Premier League and Championship matches free of charge, but it is the mention of cricket that will interest the ECB as it pursues TV rights negotiations for the period beyond 2019.

Sky announced: "For the first time, millions more Sky customers will be able to watch a mix of live sport - including football, golf from Europe and the US, international cricket and much more - as part of their basic subscription packages."

Women's cricket will also be included.

The ECB remains committed to a future where most international cricket remains behind a paywall, adamant that the revenue gained is necessary to sustain the game, not just at first-class level but in terms of the women's game and recreational cricket.

Nevertheless, there is unease about the fall in numbers in recreational cricket, which seem to signal lessening interest in the game, and which will tempt the ECB to explore the possibility of some live cricket being viewed free to air, beyond the England international highlights that are already available.

Discussions will centre not just upon England cricket, but on the availability of England's domestic T20 tournament - in whatever form it takes from 2020 onwards.

Sky Sports Mix might become a useful bargaining chip as negotiations continue. It could not count as free-to-air for all, but any increase in cricket's reach will be regarded as something worth talking about.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Abid Zaman Khan on March 19, 2016, 15:40 GMT

    Hi friends this best sites We thankful for sky sports because i like it. Thanks

  • Aubline on March 19, 2016, 15:28 GMT

    @NAYAMRAFIQUE Cricket has never been the 'no 1 choice' in England. In a competitive market, a sport which chooses to talk to a relatively small number of devotees via pay TV is doomed. The only route to gaining a wider following is free to air TV.

  •   Usman Kiani on March 19, 2016, 12:16 GMT

    Insha allah pakistan will win thid match

  • Aubline on March 19, 2016, 10:14 GMT

    @Coedsteve - None of the licence fee goes to ITV or C5. They are free.

    @Nayamrafique - People don't become 'passionate about a sport' overnight. In a competitive market, free to air TV plays an important role in attracting the uncommitted.

  • Stevan on March 19, 2016, 9:38 GMT

    BBC, ITV, C4 and C5 are not free either,,,,,, £145 a year for complete rubbish

  • NAYAM on March 19, 2016, 9:24 GMT

    I simply don't get this free-to-air nonsense. If fans are truly passionate about a sport, then shouldn't they be willing to pay if required, to watch that sport on telly? Here in India cricket, even bilaterals involving India and also the IPL, has been on pay TV for quite some years now, However, interest hasn't diminished at all. If Indian fans can afford to pay then surely the supposedly wealthier English fans can.It only goes to show that cricket isn't the no. 1 fan choice in England.

  • Phil on March 19, 2016, 9:18 GMT

    It's hardly a 'free' channel - you still have to be a Sky subscriber to view it.

  • Aubline on March 18, 2016, 22:31 GMT

    The headline is seriously misleading. It isn't a free channel. As the article explains, it's not part of the rip off sports package but is still only available to subscribers to the basic package, which is only slightly less of a rip off.

  •   Patrick Clarke on March 18, 2016, 17:53 GMT

    A bit late in the day. This should have been part of the original package post-2005 before that legacy was destroyed. 2 hours of each day's home England test and an hour's highlights from each day overseas should be the absolute minimum. I've often wondered why Sky never had some carrot to dangle in front of free to air audiences anyway.

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