ECB launches rights tender; Discovery keen

The England and Wales Cricket Board has launched its formal media rights sale process for international and domestic cricket for the five-year period spanning 2020 to 2024. Media and entertainment company Discovery Communications is reportedly interested in the tender, say media reports.

An Invitation to Tender document has been distributed, offering media rights for all matches played under the auspices of ECB in the UK and Ireland, including England international men’s and women’s matches, county cricket competitions, the women’s domestic Twenty20 competition and the new men’s T-20 league that is set to launch in 2020.

ECB has recently appointed London-based law firm CMS to advise it on sale of its media rights in the next five-year cycle.

The ECB has last sold the rights for the 2013-2017 cycle, which were further given a two year extension for two years. Sky TV currently holds the PayTV rights for all ECB games, which it had acquired @ $97m per annum. Channel 5 holts TV highlight rights while the Radio Rights presently rest with the national broadcaster BBC.

The process offers opportunities for all broadcasters, platforms and distributors to bid for live cricket, highlights and clips, for audio-visual, audio and digital use. UK newspaper The Telegraph said five packages of rights are available, including one for exclusive digital content on social-media channels.

It added that Discovery, which owns international sports broadcaster Eurosport, is set to challenge UK public-service broadcaster the BBC in bidding to bring live cricket back to free-to-air television. The ECB is targeting at least eight matches per season from its new T-20 league to be shown free-to-air and is said to have met executives from all major terrestrial channels, including the BBC and Discovery.

The Telegraph has reported that Discovery will offer to show cricket on its free-to-air channel, Quest TV. Announcement of a decision on the successful bidders is expected in mid-summer (English) 2017.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said in a statement: “This is a very important process and the outcome will be hugely significant for cricket in England and Wales.

“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.”

Following all submissions, an Evaluation Panel – with a depth of experience in media and cricket and including the Chairman and CEO of ECB – will assess each bid in line with agreed criteria and the terms of the Invitation to Tender.