Channel 5 has secured a deal to continue showing free-to-air highlights of England international cricket with the new contract set to afford the women’s national team exposure on terrestrial television for the first time.
The two-year deal with ECB covering the 2018 and 2019 seasons includes highlights of all Tests, ODI and T20 internationals on Channel 5, including the next men’s and women’s Ashes series against Australia.
Free-to-air highlights of England internationals have been a mainstay on Channel 5 since 2006, although the network’s association with the sport will come to end after 2019 after the BBC regained the rights to broadcast English cricket from 2020 onwards.
Channel 5’s highlights packages, fronted by Mark Nicholas, Geoffrey Boycott, Simon Hughes and Michael Vaughan, will continue to broadcast in its usual primetime 7pm slot, allowing viewers the chance to take in all the key events as close as possible to the end of play.
The inclusion of women’s international cricket in the new free-to-air highlights deal represents a further boost for the women’s game following England’s recent triumph over India in the ICC Women’s World Cup Final at Lord’s, a match which was played in front of a sell-out crowd and attracted TV coverage in 139 countries worldwide.
Clare Connor, ECB’s director of England women’s cricket, said:
“The move to show England women’s cricket highlights on terrestrial TV is another huge step forward for international women’s cricket.
“The ticket sales and viewing figures from the ICC Women’s World Cup showed there is a growing audience for our game and this platform will give us the chance to further capitalise on that.
“We are overwhelmingly proud of our World Cup winners and it will be wonderful for even more fans to be able to watch them in action from next year.”
Cricket highlights form part of Channel 5’s growing sports portfolio which now includes Aviva Premiership rugby union, as well as live boxing, Formula E, highlights from MotoGP and the World Rally Championship, as well as weekly EFL football highlights.
Paul Dunthorne, COO of Viacom UK, owners of Channel 5, added:
“We’re delighted to offer the world-conquering England women’s cricket team a terrestrial TV platform as cricket continues to broaden its appeal – and attract even more women and girls to the sport.”
Viewers will continue to be able to watch highlights from all of England’s men’s and women’s home games on free-to-air television for the next two years, including the men’s 2019 Ashes.
Then in 2020, the BBC steps back into English cricket for the first time in over 20 years and it will broadcast selected live men’s and women’s domestic and international T20 matches, as well as highlights of all Tests and ODIs.