Talksport catches another England cricket tour
Commercial radio station Talksport has consolidated its hold on UK rights to the England cricket team’s forthcoming away series by landing exclusive rights to the tour of South Africa in 2019-20.
Talksport, which is owned by Wireless Group, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, will provide live commentary of all four test matches, plus the one-day and Twenty20 internationals, in a deal with Cricket South Africa.
Talksport has already secured exclusive rights to England’s series in Sri Lanka this October and November and in the West Indies in February and March of 2019 in direct deals with the respective hosting boards.
These will be the first England tours not to receive live radio coverage via the ‘Test Match Special’ programme on the BBC, the UK’s public-service broadcaster, since a series in South Africa in 2004-05, with its coverage likely to be limited to news updates.
The new Talksport deal been announced on the back of England’s stirring 4-1 win over India in a home test series broadcast exclusively on TMS via the Radio 4 and Radio 5 live stations, and comes as the commercial network continues to target events that would traditionally have been reserved for the BBC.
This month’s Ryder Cup golf and British world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua’s contest against Alexander Povetkin will both be heard only on Talksport.
Scott Taunton, the chief executive of Wireless, said: “This investment [in the South Africa tour] is a further commitment from us to this great game and these upcoming winter tours are set to be just as exciting as this golden summer of cricket.”
However, the BBC can still boast a significant radio cricket offering in England home games until 2024, all ICC events to 2023, including the 2019 World Cup on home soil, and England’s tours of New Zealand in 2019 and Australia in 2020-21.
It is also assuming limited live broadcast rights and highlights rights to England home games and domestic cricket in a five-year deal starting in 2020.
In the UK, subscription broadcaster Sky, currently controlled by Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, remains the predominant home of live TV coverage of English and international cricket, and has exclusive rights to the upcoming Sri Lanka and West Indies series in long-term deals with the two boards.