No LIVE telecast? UK Cricket fans face possible India vs England series blackout
Cricket fans may face a potential broadcasting blackout for England's Test series against India, a highly anticipated event in the Test calendar. The series remains without a confirmed telecast partner on UK television with less than three weeks before the commencement of the first match, as confirmed by British daily The Guardian.
The upcoming five-match tour, featuring the second and third-ranked Test teams, is scheduled to begin in Hyderabad on January 25. Despite TalkSPORT holding radio rights, no agreement has been reached for TV broadcasting. The Board of Control for Cricket in India, known for last-minute negotiations, poses a challenge for rights distributors looking to recover substantial initial investments.
A similar scenario unfolded during England's 2021 Test series in India, concluding with a last-minute bid from Channel 4, which re-entered the market unexpectedly. However, Channel 4's previous interest was driven in part by a captive audience seeking live sports post-coronavirus lockdowns.
ECB will look to facilitate discussions to ensure telecast of the series
With Channel 4 focusing its resources on Paralympics coverage this year, there is no indication of a similar move this time.
Potential TV outlets include Sky Sports and TNT. Sky, having been the primary broadcaster for all England tours from 1990 to 2017, could step in promptly. Meanwhile, TNT had made strides in the field during its previous incarnation as BT Sport.
Although the match timings at 4 am and play concluding before midday are not during prime time, England's efforts to enhance the entertainment value and profile of Test cricket, led by Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, make it unlikely for the England and Wales Cricket Board not to facilitate discussions.