Sky Sports to battle BT Sport for Ashes rights

EXCLUSIVE: Sky to battle BT for Ashes rights after Cricket Australia offers five-year contract for domestic and international matches… but Channel 4 unlikely to bid despite success of England’s Test series in India

  • Sky Sports keen to regain rights for Australia’s international and domestic games
  • Australia due to host the Ashes series this year but it has been delayed by Covid
  • Channel 4 and Amazon Prime are unlikely to bid for the five-year contract

Sky Sports will launch a major bid to regain live rights for the Ashes when the UK tender process starts on Friday.

Sportsmail has learned that Cricket Australia have circulated tender documents to UK broadcasters for the five-year contract to cover their domestic season from 2021 to 2026 ahead of what is expected to become a battle between Sky and BT Sport, with Amazon Prime unlikely to bid.

Cricket Australia’s offer covers this winter’s Ashes and white-ball series, as well as Australia’s other home internationals and the Big Bash League — which for the last five years has been screened by BT Sport.

England will be determined to regain the Ashes having drawn with Australia in 2019

Sky are eager to regain the contract in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market for overseas cricket.

Earlier this month BT won the UK rights to broadcast New Zealand and West Indies domestic internationals, including England women’s and men’s tours respectively.

Amazon made their first foray into cricket last year by securing the rights to stream New Zealand’s home matches in India, but are not expected to compete for the Cricket Australia deal despite the bulk of the Ashes taking place in the build-up to Christmas.

Australia are scheduled to host the Ashes series this year but it has been delayed by Covid

The streaming giants already have UK rights for Premier League football in December, which they are hoping to renew when the next auction for the 2022 to 2025 cycle takes place later this year, and are not convinced that adding live cricket coverage in the same period would drastically increase subscriptions.

Cricket Australia’s decision to bundle their rights together is also expected to prevent Channel 4 from making a bid, despite the success of their coverage of England’s Test series in India.

While the overnight timings would mean little disruption to their schedule, the price is likely to be prohibitive. As Sportsmail revealed this week, Sky have secured the rights to the upcoming Twenty20 and one-day international series in India, with an official announcement expected imminently.

Sky Sports are keen to regain the rights for Australia’s international and domestic matches

Channel 4 are unlikely to bid despite successful coverage of England’s Test series in India

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