BT Sport has reportedly enhanced its coverage of major international sporting fixtures by acquiring the media rights to The Ashes cricket tournament.
According to the Daily Mail, the satellite broadcaster has beaten rivals Sky Sports to clinch the rights to the England vs Australia test series, paying £80 million to secure all of Cricket Australia’s UK rights for 2016 and 2021.
The newspaper further detailed that its sources at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have informed it to ‘expect the Ashes to be televised by BT’, assuming the tour is able to go ahead, subject to international COVID-19 restrictions.
A number of England cricket players have been unenthusiastic about the tour due to Australia’s strict pandemic restrictions, which will not allow the player’s families to accompany them to the series.
As the matches would be held during Australia’s summer – and therefore the UK’s winter – the players have informed the ECB that being allowed to spend time with their families over the Christmas and New Year period is their minimum requirement.
This presents an issue, as this is when the Melbourne and Sydney test matches have been scheduled. The EBC is reportedly ‘sympathetic’ to the players’ concerns and has been in contact with Australian authorities.
BT Sport’s acquisition of the rights to the 72nd Ashes series marks a further enhancement of its cricket coverage, having secured the rights to the New Zealand and West Indies home international matches.
Earlier in the year, the broadcaster penned a deal with the cricket authorities of both New Zealand and the West Indies for the exclusive broadcasting rights to the England men’s and women’s tours against each respective team.