Sky Sports has secured the rights to broadcast ball-by-ball coverage of Ireland’s historic inaugural Test match against Pakistan in May.
Ireland were awarded full-member status by the International Cricket Council in June 2017, along with Afghanistan, expanding the number of Test-playing nations from 10 to 12.
They will take on Pakistan in their inaugural Test match at Malahide on 11-15 May, before tackling India in two T20 internationals in late June, all of which will be broadcast live to audiences in the UK and Ireland on Sky Sports.
In addition to Sky’s exclusive live coverage, free-to-air highlights will be shown on RTE for audiences in the Republic of Ireland, however no similar deal has been announced for any terrestrial coverage in Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the deal with Sky Sports, Warren Deutrom, chief executive of Cricket Ireland, said:
“This broadcast package is set to break Irish sporting records, as we anticipate that the T20I series against India alone will be the biggest worldwide TV audience of any event – sporting or otherwise – ever staged in Ireland,” said Mr Deutrom.
“Since being confirmed as a Full Member of the International Cricket Council in June 2017, we have seen unprecedented interest in Irish cricket – most notably from a range of potential broadcast partners.We are delighted to announce today the structure of the broadcasting schedule for the coming season, and we anticipate our fans worldwide will be pleased with the comprehensive nature of the package.
Ireland’s international fixtures have regularly been broadcast on Sky Sports platforms in recent years, including the first international match to be played in Malahide back in 2013.
The new deal with Sky Sports and RTE are the largest broadcast rights package in Irish cricket history, which also incorporates match coverage on networks in countries including Australia and the US. Deutrom added:
“The combined broadcast audience for our summer of men’s cricket will reach many millions of sets of eyeballs – a remarkable achievement for a sporting team that only entered the global consciousness just over a decade ago after its heroics at the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
“It’s been an amazing trajectory over the last 10 years. From playing in front of a few hundred a few short years ago, to playing last year at Lord’s Cricket Ground in front of 25,000 – and now we are set to take that next step. To know so many people around the world are interested in our team should be a moment of pride for everyone connected with Irish cricket.”
Live coverage of Irish cricket will sit alongside Sky Sports’ existing exclusively live coverage of all England home internationals and county cricket this summer, featuring Test series against Pakistan and India, plus a five-match one-day series against Australia.
Further announcements will be made in due course regarding the TV rights for Ireland’s next set of international fixtures against Afghanistan in August.