Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent
A landmark cricket broadcast deal that was expected to fetch in excess of USD 200 million for the Pakistan Cricket Board is understood to be cancelled. The PCB has opened a new tender inviting bids for new media rights for home internationals for their upcoming series against West Indies and Australia.
The PCB had signed a three-year broadcast deal in 2020 with the state broadcaster PTV. The board had also signed an agreement with the Cable Association of Pakistan, which ensures the PCB's broadcast content is not redistributed without proper authorisation. The official signing of the deal had taken place at the Prime Minister's House in the presence of Imran Khan, who is also the PCB's patron-in-chief.
The deal allowed PTV to broadcast all Pakistan's home bilateral commitments as well as all domestic cricket. It was a step that effectively snapped the PCB's ties with long-time partner Ten Sports, who had covered Pakistan cricket since the 2000s. The PCB's broadcast rights had resided mainly with Ten Sports until last year while PTV broadcast home games as part of a joint consortium with Ten Sports from 2012 until December 2019.
The PCB had also roped in I-Media Communications Services for cable distribution and securing the transmission of PCB content broadcast on PTV Sports. The redistribution of cricket without proper authorisation was understood to be the main reason the value of PCB content was undermined. It was meant to put an end to the illegal distribution of cricket matches in the country.
The deal carried significant value. Last year, after the outbreak of Covid-19, the broadcast market was shrinking and PCB's five-year deal with Ten Sports had ended. The PCB, however, managed to work out a deal for distribution in Pakistan, but sold its international rights separately to various channels around the world. The deal reached in 2020 was supposed to end that period of uncertainty and the ad hoc nature of the arrangements the PCB was forced to cobble together since the end of the PCB's broadcast deal with Ten Sports.
ESPNcricinfo contacted the PCB and PTV. Both chose not to comment.