Despite a shrinking broadcast market, the PCB has managed to secure a three-year deal to televise all home internationals and the Pakistan Super League in the UK with Sky Sports. Having already signed a landmark deal with state broadcaster Pakistan Television (PTV) to take care of the local market, they have also negotiated tie-ups in North America (Willow TV), the Caribbean (Flow Sports), Africa (Supersport) and New Zealand (Sky Sport),
The PCB's focus now shifts to finding a suitable party that will air their matches in the biggest region for cricket viewership - South Asia; mainly India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Discussions with potential broadcasters are already underway in the region - and in Australia and the Middle East as well - but ESPNcricinfo understands that if they fail to secure a deal, they may go with the open streaming services available in the respective countries. Through it all though, the PCB will retain sole control of the entire production and will only provide a feed to the broadcaster.
"The PCB had worked in close collaboration with its international media rights consultant Colgan Bauer and carried out a stringent analysis of each market," a press release from the board said. "This included devising rights packaging and processes to enhance competition and quality broadcasters from all markets."
The PTV deal - estimated to yield USD 200 million - and those with other broadcasters around the world ends a period of uncertainty for the board. They had struck their previous two deals with Ten Sports, owned by Sony Pictures Sports Network. But with political ties strained between Pakistan and India, it has been more difficult to negotiate this time, the PCB ultimately missing out on a major broadcaster with wider global reach. So they are looking at other options.
"Despite the challenging Covid-19 times, these remain incredibly exciting times for Pakistan cricket," PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said. "The homecoming of all cricket has attracted leading sport broadcast partners to place Pakistan cricket on their networks which, in turn, will provide enhanced access to our fans and supporters across the world to follow and stay connected with us.
"This is a huge achievement for the PCB, not only in terms of succeeding in taking cricket to our global fans through these popular networks but to also maximise and exploit our media rights to ensure we continue to invest in our player welfare and development as well as cricketing infrastructure. The interest of these global sport networks also reflects that Pakistan cricket remains an attractive product for the international broadcasters. We now need to make our product bigger and stronger so that we can extend these partnerships and relationship beyond 2023."
Pakistan has a packed home season at home starting with the South Africa Tests from January 26 followed by the sixth edition of PSL with 34 matches. As the year goes on, they are also set to host New Zealand (white-ball), England (men's and women's T20Is) and West Indies (white-ball). And in 2022, Australia is due for a full tour with England and New Zealand returning for Test and ODI series. The 2023 calendar is still being chalked out.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent