England’s women to receive terrestrial showcase as Channel 5 extends ECB deal

The England & Wales Cricket Board has extended its rights deal with UK commercial broadcaster Channel 5, with the new contract set to afford the women’s national team free-to-air exposure for the first time.

Channel 5 has held highlights rights to the home games of England’s men’s team since 2006. The new two-year deal will extend this association through to the end of 2019. Channel 5’s current four-year contract was due to expire at the end of 2017.

Channel 5 viewers will have the chance to watch highlights from all of England’s men’s and women’s home games, including the men’s 2019 Ashes series against Australia. The highlights package will continue to be broadcast in its primetime slot.

The addition of women’s highlights to the package comes after England last month won the World Cup on home soil.

In June, pay-television broadcaster Sky retained the majority of its rights with the ECB, as public-service broadcaster the BBC returned as a live broadcaster of the sport under new deals that will be worth £1.1bn (€1.23bn/$1.43bn) in total.

The ECB awarded media rights for all of its domestic first-class county and international matches, played at home, for the five-year period spanning 2020 to 2024.

The BBC’s agreement means live cricket returns to terrestrial television in the UK for the first time since commercial broadcaster Channel 4 aired coverage in 2005. The BBC last showed live cricket in 1999 and will take over the international highlights package currently held by Channel 5.