Sky Sports will broadcast all World Cups in the UK and Ireland under an exclusive eight-year deal struck with the ICC for an undisclosed sum.
The arrangement marks the first time the two organisations have shared a direct contractual relationship and forms part of the ICC’s drive to sell media rights individually in key markets.
There was no bidding process involved for the UK market, though. In a media release on Friday, the ICC said it had decided to engage directly with Sky, which has a long-term broadcast deal already in place with the ECB to show cricket – both men’s and women’s – within the UK.
It is understood that rather than a tender process, the ICC factored in the ECB-Sky relationship and felt it would be beneficial to lock in a deal directly with Sky. The ICC believed that doing so would simplify things from a production and marketing perspective.
Beginning in 2024, the partnership will see Sky and its NOW streaming service hold broadcast and digital rights for all men’s and women’s ICC events, including ODI and T20I World Cups through to the end of 2031.
During the course of the partnership, Sky will broadcast 28 international events, including both men’s and women’s showcases every year as well as a World Test Championship Final every two years and Under-19 tournaments. Three of those events have already been confirmed to take place on UK soil – the 2025 World Test Championship final, the Women’s T20 World Cup in 2026 and the 2030 Men’s T20 World Cup.
“I am confident this partnership can support our long-term ambition to attract more players and more fans to the game,” Allardice said.
Jonathan Licht, Sky Sports MD, said more people in the market were watching top-level cricket following the successes of England Women at the 2017 World Cup, and the men’s team’s dual successes at the 50-over and T20 World Cups – they are current holders of both trophies.
“This new direct partnership with the ICC means that Sky Sports viewers in the UK and Ireland will continue to enjoy every ball, run, wicket and catch from every international tournament for many years to come, and we’re all hugely excited to see what’s in store,” he said.
The 2019 Men’s World Cup, hosted by England, recorded the highest average audience for a cricket tournament in the UK to date and drew the highest ever UK TV peak for cricket of 8.8m viewers as Sky shared the rights to the final with Channel 4. England’s victory over Pakistan in the Men’s T20 World Cup final last year in Australia was the highest-viewed T20 match in the UK ever following a similar partnership with the terrestrial broadcaster.
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