ECB beats recession with £100m TV deal
English cricket secured another recession-busting deal yesterday. In announcing a seven-year contract for the overseas rights to home and domestic international matches it ensured the age of austerity will remain a foreign land to the sport.
The package with ESPN Star Sports for exclusive rights in Asia, the Middle East and Africa is worth more than £100m. It will run from 2013 to 2019 and involves more than 300 days of cricket. The England and Wales Cricket Board's negotiations were probably helped by the team's status as the No 1 Test nation.
With this cash in addition to the recent agreement with BSkyB for screening cricket at home, worth £260m, as well as the money to be saved on Kevin Pietersen's central contract following his retirement from limited overs cricket, the ECB's future for a decade is assured.
It already has in place a lucrative 10-year deal with asset management group Investec for sponsoring home Test matches.
David Collier, the ECB's chief executive, said: "This new agreement demonstrates the enormous appetite for cricket worldwide and the global pulling power of a successful England team and a vibrant county game.
"In a challenging economic climate with all sports facing tough competition for funding streams, it will also provide an important source of additional revenue for funding the development of our game at all levels.
"TV audiences for cricket are expanding rapidly in Asia and the Middle East and we look forward to working closely with ESS to give both our international and county teams the widest possible TV exposure over the next seven years."
Cash for developing the game at grassroots remains crucial but this sort of deal also ensures that cricket is likely to remain an attractive option as a career for the talented sportsman.
ESS has held the rights for overseas screening of England cricket for the past five years and was keen to build on audiences with the team having made such big improvements. The inclusion of two India series in 2014 and 2018 was also enticing.
No doubt helped by the fact that there is an unprecedented amount of airtime to fill, this still represents a huge fillip to cricket's bankability.
Sachin Tendulkar, who is presumably running out of cricketing accolades, took the first step along the road to rest of his life yesterday. He was sworn in as a member of parliament in India's upper house, the first cricketer still playing to sit.
* West Indies last night ended former captain Chris Gayle's one-year exclusion from the side by recalling him to the 15-man squad to take on England in the one-day series later this month. Gayle last featured for West Indies in the quarter-final defeat to Pakistan in the World Cup in March 2011. He then fell out with the West Indies Cricket Board, partly over criticism directed at coach Ottis Gibson.
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