16 Feb

Sky Sports are closing in on the rights to England’s white-ball matches in India next month after a bidding war with BT Sport and Channel 4. The ECB’s main broadcast partner declined to match Star Sports’ asking price for the red-ball series, which enabled Channel 4 to step in and bring live Test cricket back to UK terrestrial television for the first time in 16 years. 

Sky Sports however, have reasserted their dominance by snapping up the rights for the five T20 matches and three one-day internationals that follow in March, reports the Daily Mail. 

The T20 matches all start at 1.30pm UK time, with the one-day internationals beginning at 8am or 9am, which Sky executives believe will enable them to attract significantly higher viewing figures than for the Test series which has mainly 4am earlier starts. 

The five T20 games in Ahmedabad will be of particular interest to fans as they are crucial preparation for Eoin Morgan’s side for this year’s World Cup, which also takes place in India. The tour will then conclude with three one-day internationals in Pune. 

Sky’s commentary team will again cover the white-ball matches remotely from the UK due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, as they did for last month’s Test series in Sri Lanka. 

Channel 4 have attracted decent viewing figures for Chennai, with the second day of the second Test on Sunday attracting a peak audience of 1.6 million and an average of 573,000 — an increase on the first Test. 

The commentary team for their coverage of the third Test in Ahmedabad will change with Graeme Swann replacing Mark Butcher.   

John Stephenson 


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