The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has renewed its broadcast deal with ESPN Star Sports (ESS) for Asia, the Middle East and north Africa.
The seven-year extension is worth a reported US$200 million and will allow the broadcaster to screen all England home internationals in all three forms of the game, as well as 60 days' coverage of English domestic cricket, across the region from 2013 until 2019. The term covers three Ashes tours by Australia, in 2013, 2015 and 2019, as well as two by India in 2014 and 2018. Selected England Lions, England Under-19s and England women's games will also be included.
ESS originally became a broadcast partner of the ECB five years ago.
ECB chief executive David Collier said: "This new agreement demonstrates the enormous appetite for cricket worldwide and the global pulling power of a successful England team and a vibrant county game. In a challenging economic climate with all sports facing tough competition for funding streams, it will also provide an important source of additional revenue for funding the development of our game at all levels. TV audiences for cricket are expanding rapidly in Asia and the Middle East and we look forward to working closely with ESS to give both our international and county teams the widest possible TV exposure over the next seven years."
ESPN Star Sports managing director Manu Sawhney added: "We are delighted to further extend our partnership with ECB with whom we have shared a very strong relationship over the past two decades. Over the years, we have continued to showcase the best cricket action from around the world to fans from the India sub-continent and this acquisition further re-affirms our position as the leader in cricket broadcasting."
The deal has been followed by the news that News Corp is to acquire ESPN's 50 per cent stake in the ESPN Star Sports joint venture. According to an official release, the move forms part of the group's strategy of streamlining its global business operations by buying out those companies it does not control outright or selling off its shares.
The agreement is subject to regulatory approval and financial terms have not been released. It has, however, been confirmed that Fox International senior vice president for sports Peter Hutton will replace Sawhney as managing director, with the latter remaining at ESS until 31st August to complete a smooth handover.
As ESPN goes on to pursue new opportunities in Asia, News Corp will now dominate the cricket rights market in the region. ESPN Star Sports is the International Cricket Council's global broadcast partner for major events and recently renewed its partnerships with the Australian Cricket Board, while the News Corp-owned Star Group secured the domestic rights to India internationals in April.