Sky Sports is to dedicate one of its channels exclusively to cricket this summer as it gears up to provide comprehensive coverage of the 2013 Investec Ashes series.
The pay-TV giant will commit one channel – Sky Sports Ashes HD – to 63 days of action between June 30 and August 31, including exclusively live ball-by-ball coverage of the five-match test series between England and Australia.
The channel will also screen county fixtures from the Yorkshire Bank 40 and Friends Life T20 competitions, highlights shows and various support programming.
Sky Sports Ashes will temporarily replace Sky Sports 2 on viewers’ programme guides for the two-month period as the channel is transformed and dedicated to cricket at no extra cost to customers.
Viewers will be able to enjoy every session from cricket’s most eagerly awaited Test series, beginning with the first Test from Trent Bridge on July 10.
The first live action on the newly rebranded Ashes channel will feature England as they take on Essex in a four-day warm-up game at Chelmsford (June 30-July 3).
Also this summer, Sky Sports Ashes will feature selected coverage of the Women’s Ashes with live action from all three Twenty20 internationals, plus live YB40, Friend’s Life t20 and an England v Pakistan under-19 international.
Support programming includes archive shows, Cricket AM, Cricket Writers on TV and extended match highlights.
Sky Sports 2 and Sky Sports 2 HD will automatically be transformed into Sky Sports Ashes and Sky Sports Ashes HD respectively at 06:00 on June 30 and viewers will not have to do anything.
This summer’s Ashes series is the eighth to be shown live on Sky Sports and the second home series exclusively broadcast on the network.
Former England captain Andrew Strauss will join a stellar line-up of distinguished names in the Sky Sports commentary box including Sir Ian Botham, Shane Warne, David Gower, Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, David Lloyd and Michael Holding.
England cricket legend and Sky commentator Sir Ian Botham said: “This is wall to wall cricket, on one channel, for the key months of the summer.
“The Ashes is the pinnacle of Test cricket and when it comes to television, cricket fans have never had it so good. Bring it on.”
Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, added: “There has never been a better time to be a Sky Sports subscriber, our six channels are offering more than ever before.
“The Ashes series is a key part of the biggest summer of sport we’ve ever had and with The British & Irish Lions Tour, back to back Ashes, every F1 race and our biggest ever football season, there really is something for everyone.”
“With Sky Sports Ashes HD, it couldn’t be easier for viewers to enjoy their live cricket.
“The channel will be the home of televised cricket for the summer with an unrivalled schedule.
“We’re also pleased to continue our commitment to women’s cricket with live coverage of all three T20 internationals between England and Australia.
“I’m sure these will provide an exciting conclusion to the Women’s Ashes in August.”
In addition to live coverage on TV and online via Sky Go, Sky Sports will also launch an enhanced Ashes experience within its acclaimed iPad app and via the Ashes Event Centre on skysports.com, providing users with even more viewing options, data and insight throughout the series.
Sky Sports’ bumper summer of sport includes the British & Irish Lions Tour, back-to-back Ashes Series, the ICC Champions Trophy, every race live in the F1 season, Super League, US Open & US PGA Golf, Andy Murray defending his US Open title and the start of the 2013/14 football season.