Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) India, one of the country’s heavyweight broadcasters, has today (August 10) finalized a deal to continue showing home international cricket played by England until 2028.
The extension of an existing agreement between SPN and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), announced earlier, means all international cricket in England (excluding global tournaments) over the next six years will continue to be covered exclusively – both men’s and women’s matches – by that network.
Over that time period, SPN will – it has said – show around 250 days of international men’s cricket live (including 21 games between England and India), and will also cover the increasing amount of women’s international cricket played in England.
The deal – one of the ECB’s most lucrative in terms of overseas media rights – will extend across not only India, but also into Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and the Maldives.
The renewal between the two was first reported last week.
Aside from international matches, the deal also includes professional domestic cricket played in England, including the County Championship, the T20 Blast, and the One Day Cup.
The current deal between SPN and the ECB was struck in March 2018 and runs through the current 2022 English cricketing season (which has already seen India tour, for one test and six limited-overs fixtures).
In all, Sony is showing 80 men’s and women’s international matches in England between 2018 and the end of 2022.
The next scheduled men’s test series between England and India – likely to be a five-match affair – is set for 2025, according to multiple reports.
N. P. Singh, managing director and chief executive at SPN India, said: “The English cricket team is amongst the most formidable in the world, and we look forward to broadcasting high-quality cricket played in England during primetime viewing hours including the 21 matches featuring India between 2023 to 2028.”
This will be a welcome boost for SPN’s cricket coverage, with that broadcaster having missed out in two top-tier cricket tender processes in recent months.
The broadcaster was beaten to the punch for rights to both the domestic Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise competition, and to Australian home internationals, recently, by its pay-TV rival Star India (which also held English cricket rights between 2013 and 2017).
The IPL rights were awarded after an auction process in mid-June, while the Cricket Australia rights were snapped up by Star, with SPN having failed to renew an existing deal.
Clare Connor, the interim chief executive at the ECB, added: "We’re delighted to extend this partnership for another six years, broadcasting England Men’s and Women’s home international cricket to a passionate global audience. This partnership also enables us to bring the men’s county game to the biggest cricket audience in the world …”
Last month, the ECB extended its domestic rights tie-up with Sky Sports, the heavyweight UK pay-TV broadcaster, through to the end of 2028.
The new deal between those two bodies will see a minimum of 90 extra hours of live cricket shown on TV in the UK each year – both home internationals and domestic – compared to the current five-year deal, which was signed in 2017 and took effect in 2020.
The existing deal, covering the 2020-24 cycle, is by far the ECB’s largest single source of revenue and has led to significant increases in the levels of money across the top echelons of the English game.
Currently, Sky covers all of England’s home internationals, while the BBC has joint rights to a handful of men’s and women’s T20 internationals each year.
While its domestic coverage of England games is now secure, Sky has been gradually relinquishing its rights to overseas cricket in recent years.
As part of the new agreement, Sky has made a “defined commitment” to broadcast more women’s cricket than ever before, including two free-to-air international T20 matches, while it has also agreed to a minimum of eight women’s matches from the Hundred short-format domestic competition being shown on terrestrial TV – up from a minimum two in the previous agreement.