ECB chief downplays relevance of terrestrial television in future strategy

Tom Harrison, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), has labelled terrestrial television as “less relevant every year,” suggesting that the body’s focus will remain on pay-television platforms in the future.

Several county championship club chairmen have urged the ECB to secure a greater presence for its properties on UK free-to-air television. In January, UK pay-television broadcaster Sky agreed a two-year extension, from 2018 to 2019, to its partnership with the ECB, covering exclusive live rights to England’s home fixtures, county matches, women's and age grade cricket.

“Sky have been a great partner for English cricket,” Harrison said, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper. “Going forward, we need to be very careful about the way in which this argument is understood. Is there a role for terrestrial television post the current deal with Sky? Terrestrial is becoming, frankly, less relevant every single year in the context of how people consume media. I don't think we solve all our participation concerns by terrestrial television.”

In April, the ECB held meetings with several free-to-air broadcasters to gauge their interest in cricket coverage, but the talks proved “inconclusive,” the report added.

After the Sky extension was confirmed earlier this year, ECB chairman Colin Graves said that “terrestrial television does not want cricket, [and] it certainly does not want Test cricket.”