It has officially been announced, Sky Sports have been awarded exclusive UK rights to the upcoming India and England cricket series.
A deal between rights holder Nimbus and the UK broadcaster was confirmed late last night but only announced this morning. Sky Sports will be showing the series starting next Wednesday live and contrary to rumours the telecast will be exclusive and not shared with any other broadcaster.
It also appears that although Sky will be showing all upcoming India tests for the next four years, not all matches will be shown exclusively. Telecast of these matches will be shared with an Asian broadcaster to target a wider audience.
Sky also now hold the series, which England are due to play in India in 2008 – 2009.
Announcing the deal, Harish Thawani, chairman of Nimbus Communications Ltd – awarded the rights to Indian cricket by the BCCI last week and one of Asia’s leading media and entertainment companies – said: “Nimbus believes this is the right proposition for UK cricket fans.
“Sky Sports’ commitment to international and domestic cricket augurs well for fans of Indian cricket in the UK.”
Vic Wakeling, Managing Director of Sky Sports said: “Apart from the two tours by England, there are some exciting series planned in India over the next four years.
“We are delighted that subscribers to Sky Sports will be able to see them all.”
Four former England captains – Mike Atherton, Ian Botham, David Gower and Nasser Hussain – are flying out this weekend to join the commentary team in India.
The deal struck between Nimbus and BSkyB is reportedly worth 10m, according to The Telegraph.
Earlier this week, Nimbus Chairman Harish Thawani had said that he would not bet on BSkyB winning the rights. “We find the terms offered by Sky Sports to be singularly unattractive. We will demonstrate there are some alternatives for cricket in the UK. Their (Sky Sports) monopoly has just ended.”
This then led to reports that Asian channels ZEE and Sony TV had upped their bids. Pay per view broadcaster Setanta was also said to have been in the frame after Thawani’s harsh words against BSkyB. It is also important to point out that BSkyB had been disqualified from the bidding process, which Nimbus went on to win.
So the way it stands in the UK, Sky Sports will be exclusively telecasting the series from next week. BBC hold exclusive rights for UK radio. An announcement from Nimbus on India’s telecast partner is also expected in the next couple of days.