Ashes Broadcast Rights: Discovery set to compete with Sky & BT Sports for Ashes rights

Ashes Broadcast Rights: US media giant Discovery will compete with the likes of Sky and BT Sports for this winter’s Ashes cricket series on its Discovery+ streaming service, according to The Daily Telegraph. According to the report, Discovery is very interested in the next edition of the Ashes series between Australia and England.

Discovery is said to be in the mix for the contract alongside incumbent rights-holder BT Sport and fellow pay-television broadcaster Sky, according to UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph.

Ashes Broadcast Rights: Cricket Australia has released the tender for the package

The newspaper reports that the network is in a three-horse race with pay-TV broadcasters BT and Sky for a four-year package, worth in excess of US$68.7 million, for UK rights to England’s upcoming tour of Australia.

All in, the rights package covers both the men’s and women’s Ashes, the men’s One Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 series in 2022, Australia’s other home internationals and the domestic Big Bash League (BBL) competition.

The Telegraph adds that Amazon, which has been beefing out its sports offering lately, has ruled itself out of a deal.

Cricket Australia (CA), the national governing body, circulated tender documents for the package last month. BT Sport currently holds the rights in a five-year deal that began in 2016, having purportedly paid more than UK£80 million (US$110 million). However, The Telegraph reports that figure is unlikely to be met this time due to a downward trend in the sports rights market.

For Discovery, getting the Ashes would allow it to build on the momentum it hopes Discovery+ gathers later this year when it broadcasts the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Discovery holds Olympic Games rights in 50 markets and territories, excluding Russia, with its international sports broadcaster, Eurosport, an official rights-holder in the UK and France for Tokyo 2020.

That said, The Telegraph reports BT and Sky remain the ‘established frontrunners’ to secure CA’s package. BT broadcast the last Ashes series down under in 2017/18, while Sky has a deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) until 2024 for home matches.

England’s recent tour of India was shown on commercial network Channel 4, making it the first time Test cricket featuring England was shown on free-to-air (FTA) TV since the 2005 Ashes.