ECB targets 'right balance of reach, revenue and exposure' in media rights tender
The England and Wales Cricket Board has launched the invitation to tender for domestic media rights to its major events from 2020 to 2024.
The governing body is seeking bids from broadcasters, platforms and distributors in the UK and Ireland for live, highlights and clips rights to be exploited via television, radio and digital media over a five-year period, with chief executive Tom Harrison saying it wants "the right balance of reach, revenue and exposure."
The events include the England men and women’s teams’ home test matches, one-day internationals and Twenty20 internationals, domestic county cricket, the women’s Twenty20 competition and a new men’s Twenty20 competition.
The ECB said that, once bids have been submitted, an evaluation panel, comprising executives “with a depth of experience in media and cricket” and including Harrison and its chairman Colin Graves “will assess each bid in line with agreed criteria and the terms of the invitation to tender.”
Rights are expected to be awarded in the middle of this summer, the ECB noted.
In the UK, live TV rights to domestic and international cricket in England are presently held by subscription broadcaster Sky in a deal worth approximately £75 million ($97 million) per year that runs until 2019. Free-to-air commercial broadcaster Channel 5 has TV highlights rights and public-service broadcaster the BBC controls the radio rights.
It has been reported that the ECB is aiming for domestic rights deals worth between £230 million and £250 million per year, with fees to be driven up by the launch of the new city-based eight-team Twenty20 league to start in 2020 and designed along the lines of the high-profile Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash League.
Sky has had a stranglehold on live rights to English cricket since 2006, but now has a credible rival in BT Sport, which broadcasts cricket played in Australia, making a competitive auction a real possibility.
Harrison, formerly a senior executive involved in rights negotiations at IMG, said: “This is a very important process and the outcome will be hugely significant for cricket in England and Wales. The game is in good shape, with inspiring international teams, strong county competitions, a recreational game that’s adapting to modern lifestyles and a new participation drive for a younger audience.
“Our partners for the next rights period will help us build on these very strong foundations and develop an even brighter future. They will understand our strategy, see the opportunities and share our ambitions for growth. Through this process, we are looking to secure the right balance of reach, revenue and exposure to drive the game for the next decade. To achieve that, we’re offering a wide range of opportunities, within a competitive process that will meet the highest standards.
“Our competitions are attractive, the bidding criteria clear and we have a planned and proper approach to make the right decisions for the long-term growth and vitality of the game. We’re excited to see how potential partners look at the opportunities to be involved in the future growth of the game in England and Wales.”
The ECB recently appointed CMS, the London-based leading law firm, to advise it on the sale of its media rights in the next five-year cycle.