Sky Sports, the prominent UK pay-TV sports broadcaster, has signed off a deal to provide exclusive coverage of both the men’s and women’s editions of Australian cricket’s domestic Big Bash League until 2025.
Sky, which struck this deal with the Cricket Australia governing body yesterday, has already been providing coverage of the 2021-22 season of the Women’s BBL, which started in mid-October (and has been listing the upcoming men's event on its TV planner), with this deal cementing its status as the sole UK broadcaster of both the men’s and women’s eight-team competitions for the next four campaigns.
The news comes after CA yesterday announced a renewal with BT Sport, Sky’s main pay-TV rival in the UK, to give that network exclusive broadcast rights for the next four seasons of Australia’s home international cricket, also covering both men’s and women’s action.
During the previous arrangement between CA and BT, between 2016 and 2021, BBL and WBBL rights were bundled alongside international matches but, for the upcoming cycle, they have been separated, with Sky now securing a slice of the Australian cricketing summer once again, until the finale of the 2024-25 season.
Sky is likely to see the BBL both as a reasonable consolation prize and as a means of maintaining its presence in terms of covering a range of domestic leagues from around the globe.
BT’s new arrangement will start with the highly-anticipated ‘Ashes’ test series between Australia and England from 9 December.
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The Sydney Morning Herald has today reported that, due to the domestic action having been removed from the BT deal, that broadcaster is only paying around $97 million for its set of rights, almost $30 million less than it paid over the first five years of its relationship with CA.
The BBL began in 2011 and heralded last year’s 2020-21 campaign as the most-watched (domestically) in its history, while the WBBL is now in its fourth campaign.
Domestic coverage of the BBL and WBBL this season is being provided by free-to-air broadcaster Seven, as well as by pay-TV's Foxtel (and by that broadcaster's streaming service, Kayo).
Nick Hockley, chief executive at CA, has now said: “Sky Sports is broadcasting both the WBBL and the BBL which is very exciting, with the WBBL having already started and showcasing the world’s best players to cricket fans globally.”
Bryan Henderson, director of cricket at Sky Sports, added: "We’re delighted to add the men’s and women’s Big Bash Leagues to our dedicated channel Sky Sports Cricket, it’s a tournament with great players and a great history of excitement…
“We know our viewers will relish having another blockbuster domestic competition to add to their calendar.”
Sky, alongside the public-service BBC, is one of the two domestic broadcast partners of The Hundred, the new short-form franchise teams competition which launched in the UK earlier this year.
It also covers the Indian Premier League, the most prestigious and lucrative T20 domestic league worldwide.
In addition, it is the main live broadcast partner for international and domestic cricket played in the UK, through a deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board running through until 2024.
Meanwhile, CA has appointed two new executives to its senior leadership team.
Sarah McCartney has joined as executive general manager of communications and marketing, while Ankit Mishra has come on board as the general manager of strategy and innovation.
McCartney is said to have been “a trusted corporate affairs advisor to boards, chief executives and c-suite executives in Australia and overseas”, while Mishra has been tasked with “driving CAs next strategic planning cycle.”