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Cricket coverage in the UK will return to free-to-air television with ITV getting rights to broadcast the IPL for the 2010 season. The broadcaster will show live all the matches on ITV4 - one of its digital channels - from the feed supplied by Sony and will employ its own studio experts.
The IPL, which was without a UK broadcaster following the collapse of Setanta last year, will have a specialist section on the ITV website and has the right to webcast matches. The latest deal follows the YouTube-IPL tieup in January, whereby the internet channel will webcast live IPL matches globally.
Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, said, "This is a hugely significant deal for the IPL and ideally suited to the British passion for both cricket and entertainment."
"In only two years, the IPL has already established itself as one of the world's most high-profile and exciting sports events, which attracts some of the very best cricketers from around the globe," said Zai Bennett, ITV's director of digital channels and acquisitions. "It is an exciting acquisition for one of the UK's fastest growing digital channels and we're delighted to be able to offer the whole tournament free-to-air to our viewers."
The move also comes at a time when the ECB is fighting the listing of the home Ashes to be shown on terrestrial television, which they fear would lead to a major cut in funding. The only cricket previously available free-to-air in the UK is Five's highlights show during Tests and one-day internationals, while all international and domestic action is live on Sky Sports.
The third season of the IPL starts on March 12 and runs for 45 days.