TalkSport secures broadcasting rights for England’s tours of India, while BBC once again misses out.
TalkSport has obtained the radio broadcasting rights for the upcoming England men’s tour of India in the upcoming year. This is at the expense of BBC’s Test Match Special, which once again lost to its commercial competitor.
Both networks were reportedly vying for the exclusive rights to broadcast England’s upcoming tours of India in both men’s and women’s cricket for the next four years. TalkSport was notified that their bid was successful on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, the agreement for the women’s Test match in Mumbai came too late as it had already begun on Thursday. A representative from TalkSport informed the Guardian that they are currently considering options for covering the remaining portion of the match. However, with the Twenty20 portion of the tour completed and another team already covering England’s men in the Caribbean, it seems unlikely that coverage will be provided.
The broadcasting rights for the upcoming five-Test men’s series in India, beginning on 25 January, have yet to be sold. TNT Sports (previously known as BT Sport) may have an advantage, as Sky recently backed out of overseas tours. The most recent men’s Test series between England and India in 2021, which had limited spectators due to the pandemic, ended up being aired on Channel 4 after Sky and BT withdrew from the negotiations.
TalkSport is competing to be the primary radio broadcaster for England’s international sports games. They recently secured a four-year contract to cover games in India, adding to their existing coverage of the Caribbean and New Zealand. However, Test Match Special will still have the rights to broadcast the upcoming men’s Ashes series in Australia, along with other ICC tournaments and domestic games until 2028.
It is uncertain if the BBC will continue as Sky’s secondary television partner for the summer season, as there are indications that the BBC’s enthusiasm for the Hundred is diminishing. While Sky has already extended their contract until 2028, the BBC’s agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board, which includes highlighting Test cricket in the evenings and digital clips on their website, will expire in just one year.
The ECB faces a challenging situation as the BBC’s extensive reach, through its various channels, stations, and platforms, is seen as essential for the success of the Hundred. Although other free-to-air broadcasters may also express interest, it is likely that the BBC will remain involved at a lower cost.