Is Channel 5’s Australian cricket capture the start of a traditional broadcaster fightback?

It’s been a long time, but cricket has come back to free-to-air TV in the UK.

Ever since Sky Sports bought the rights to the Ashes, British audiences have not seen live cricket on free-to-air TV, other than short-lived attempts to bring the Indian Premier League and the Caribbean Premier League to ITV 4 and Dave, respectively.

On Boxing Day, though, Channel 5 showed their first installment of the Australian Big Bash League T20, which will be shown live all the way up to the final on January 28th.

According to Cricbuzz, the broadcaster acquired the rights for ‘a six-figure sum’, and broadcast five live games this season, with the remaining 35 games broadcast on BT Sport’s paid-for channels.
http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/84833/big-bash-league-2016-17-to-be-broadcast-live-on-terrestrial-tv-in-the-uk

The move is significant for both broadcasters. For BT Sport recently agreed a deal with Cricket Australia to show the BBL as well as Australia’s home internationals, whilst broadcasting some of the games on terrestrial TV should boost the audience and act as a sort of advertisement for the BBL in the UK.

For Channel 5, as Cricbuzz points out, the move is significant as over the next few years, the ECB is said to be attempting to roll out its own T20 league, and Channel 5 is also said to be one of the broadcasters interested in securing the rights.

The move somewhat bucks the trend of late towards online streaming services snapping up the rights to this sort of content. With Channel 5 attempting to get into the cricket game again, we could be starting to see the traditional broadcasters fighting back.

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Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 129 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and a regular contributor to Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan91

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