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Report: BT Sport set to secure Ashes cricket rights

Pay-TV network expected to see off UK rival Sky Sports for Australia-England Test series.

13 August 2021 Ed Dixon
  • BT paid approximately UK£80m for previous Cricket Australia rights from 2016 to 2021
  • ECB chief executive Tom Harrison “very confident” this winter’s Ashes will take place

UK-pay TV broadcaster BT Sport is set to win the live rights for this winter’s Ashes Test cricket series, according to the Daily Mail.

The newspaper reports that BT will see off competition from rival network Sky Sports for the new contract covering England’s high-profile tour of Australia.

Financial terms of the deal have not been reported, but the Mail says BT paid UK£80 million (US$110 million) to secure all of Cricket Australia’s (CA) UK rights for the 2016 to 2021 cycle. That agreement included Australia’s home internationals and the domestic Twenty20 Big Bash League (BBL).

According to the Mail, the ECB expects the Ashes to be televised by BT, assuming the tour down under goes ahead. 

Tight border controls in Australia have left England players concerned their families will be unable to join them for the lengthy series. They are also worried by the prospect of extended quarantines and restrictive bubble environments.

Talks between the two sides have been ongoing, with ECB chief executive Tom Harrison saying he was “very confident” the Ashes will take place.

“We are working very closely with Cricket Australia and I had my latest conversation with my counterpart at Cricket Australia yesterday. We are speaking every few days on this matter,” Harrison said this week.

“All the right conversations are happening at government level in Australia and we will be using our own diplomatic channels in the UK to ensure that the view of the players and the ECB [is heard].”

Harrison added that he was hopeful the Australian government would give “some leniency” regarding travel for players’ families, adding that the ECB was pushing ahead with plans for the series. 

“The issue at the moment is the process that we need to go through to get the assurances that we need to be comfortable, that our players can get on the plane to Australia and feel confident that they can be at their best and they can perform at their best, without having to cope with the mental weight of being massively concerned about the conditions,” Harrison said.

“It is a critically important series for Cricket Australia, much like every summer is important to us to deliver. We are working to ensure we can get everything right and that we can all look forward to a very exciting Ashes series in Australia this winter.

“We're doing it together. This is not an adversarial conversation, it's one which we're doing together.”

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