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ECB pay for Sky broadcast of Bangladesh tour – but series will be streamed for free

A financial contribution from the England and Wales Cricket Board helped ensure Jos Buttler’s white-ball team’s tour of Bangladesh would be broadcast in the UK – and it means that it will also be streamed for free.

Sky have secured the TV rights for the tour, which comprises three ODIs and three T20s and starts on Wednesday, but it will also be shown on the ECB website.

Sky, for some time, have been the last UK broadcaster interested in the rights. Sources on both sides of the negotiation believed a deal had been struck earlier this month, but it collapsed and negotiations rumbled on over a difference in valuation of the rights between the broadcaster and the Bangladesh Cricket Board, leading to a stand-off. The BCB were holding out for Sky to raise their offer, while Sky held out for the BCB to lower their demands.

Wishing to keep both Sky, with whom they have a long-term broadcast deal, and the BCB happy, and ensure the series was shown in the UK, the ECB stepped in to offer funds to bridge the gap between the two parties’ valuations. In exchange for their investment, they will stream the broadcast.

A similar arrangement was struck for England’s tour of the Netherlands last summer, with the broadcast shown on both Sky’s channels and the ECB website. Rather than paying, viewers just had to sign up to the ECB’s website (and therefore mailing lists). The timezone, with all matches day/night, is relatively friendly for a UK audience.

The deal is expected to be announced imminently, with final negotiations taking place on Monday, just a couple of days before the ODI series begins.

It is understood that the size of the offers and lack of interest from the UK market shocked the BCB. This is England’s first tour of the country since 2016 and, even without any Test matches, it would represent a considerable commercial opportunity for them.

Insiders in the UK sports broadcast industry see this as part of a wider trend. The value of bilateral series lacking teams’ best players are dropping due to a lack of context and because a congested schedule means the best players often sit out.

The market is saturated and the world’s many franchise tournaments, which provide daily content for weeks at a time at a relatively modest price, are seen as better value by broadcasters. The UK rights for the Indian Premier League are up for grabs for this season, while Sky will show the Women’s Premier League, which starts this weekend.

For this series, Talksport have the radio rights.

England are without a host of players for the Bangladesh tour. The first ODI takes place the day after England’s second Test in New Zealand ends (tomorrow), ruling out the likes of Joe Root and Harry Brook. Meanwhile, Alex Hales leads a group of uncontracted players who are playing in the Pakistan Super League – with the ECB’s blessing – because the financial rewards on offer dwarf England match fees.

Nevertheless, England have been able to pick a strong squad, led by Buttler and containing pace bowlers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood. The three ODIs represent important preparation in similar conditions for October’s World Cup in India. Telegraph

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