The International Cricket Council (ICC) has struck a media rights deal with Sky Sports, the heavyweight pay-TV broadcaster in the UK, in an exclusive agreement covering all major men’s and women’s events between 2024 and the end of 2031.

The tie-up, announced today (January 27), represents an extension of Sky’s coverage of the ICC’s top-tier events but is the first occasion on which there will be a direct contractual relationship between the two parties.

The current agreement through which Sky is the exclusive home of ICC premier events in the UK and Ireland was struck in October 2014, covering the 2015 to 2023 period.

That deal was tied up through Star, the Indian pay-TV broadcaster that currently holds global rights – and which retained them for the subcontinent until 2027 in August – whereas this one did not involve a third party.

Between 2024 and 2031, Sky Sports will show every game from all 28 major men’s, women’s, and under-19 events exclusively live, and across that period there will be a major ICC tournament every year.

The ICC rights cover 16 men’s events over the cycle between those two dates and eight equivalent women’s events running from 2024 to 2027. The Cricket World Cups and T20 World Cups for both men and women during these periods are covered, as are the various editions of the ICC Champions Trophy and the finals of the next four men’s World Test Championships.

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Three tournaments over the time period will take place in the UK – the 2025 World Test Championship Final, the Women’s T20 World Cup a year later, and the 2030 Men’s T20 World Cup.

Sky Sports managing director, Jonathan Licht, said: “This new direct partnership with the ICC means that Sky Sports viewers in the UK & 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.”

Aside from its coverage of ICC tournaments, Sky is also the home of the vast majority of men’s and women’s England home internationals.

In July, it extended its current deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) governing body until 2028.

In addition, it currently has partnerships in place with cricketing boards in South Africa, Pakistan, and Australia.

For the finals of the men’s 2019 ODI World Cup and last year’s men’s T20 World Cup – both of which England won – Sky Sports struck carriage deals with UK commercial free-to-air broadcaster Channel 4, meaning that the network was also able to show the action live.

The UK is only the second major cricket market in which the ICC has struck a rights deal through 2031, following the process in India which was concluded five months ago.

In Australia – which alongside India and England makes up cricket’s perceived ‘Big Three’ nations – the rights have been re-tendered in the last few weeks after that process initially began in September.

The rights are also currently up for sale for the same time period in the US, Canada, and the Caribbean.

The India sales process – which resulted in a four-year deal, potentially signaling the ICC feels there is significant growth in the near future from that market – was the kickstarter for the overall rights tender.

For men’s events, one package is available as a combined TV and digital offering. Bids must initially be submitted for a four-year term but interested participants can then opt in to bid for the full eight years. For the women’s events, interested bidders only have the option of a four-year term, and again one package is available including both TV and digital rights.

The bundling of the TV and digital rights differs from the approach taken during the Indian tender.

Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s chief executive, added: “We are delighted to partner with Sky Sports until 2031 as the home of ICC cricket in the UK and Ireland. For the first time, the partnership will be a direct relationship with Sky Sports which gives us some exciting opportunities for innovative collaborations.

“I am confident this partnership can support our long-term ambition to attract more players and more fans to the game.”

Image: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images