Sky has seen off a what was thought to be a determined challenge from rival BT to retain the pay-TV rights to English cricket until 2024.
The firm has emerged as the victor in the England & Wales Cricket Board’s auction of TV rights and secured live coverage of international and county cricket from 2020, including every match from the new T20 competition.
However for the first time since 2005 it will have to share TV rights with another broadcaster after the ECB decided to reserve some games for a Free To Air package which has been won by the BBC.
The BBC’s coverage will include two England men’s international T20 matches, one England women’s T20 international, 10 men’s matches from the ECB’s New T20 competition and up to eight matches from the women’s T20 tournament including both finals.
Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: “This will lead to a step change in the BBC’s coverage of cricket across TV, radio and digital platforms.
“We are extremely excited about what we have to offer by taking cricket to the widest possible audience and inspiring the next generation to pick up bat and ball.”
The game’s return to subscription free TV will help boost its profile after concerns that the sport had suffered from being stranded behind a paywall in recent years.
Sky’s current deal with the ECB runs until 2020 and its new contract means it’ll be the main home of English cricket for the next seven years.
However BT’s deal with the Australian cricket authorities means it will miss out on showing the next Ashes.
The satellite broadcaster says it’ll work with the BBC and ECB “to develop a new participation and engagement approach to help deliver the ECB’s ambitions to grow the game at all levels.”
Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: “This is a ground-breaking agreement that represents a new and exciting approach to sports rights in this country.
“It extends our partnership with the game into a third decade and will see us work with the ECB to excite and engage cricket fans of all ages.
“We will continue to innovate in our coverage and make it accessible across our channels, products and services.
“And drawing on our experience of getting millions on their bikes with our successful 8-year Sky Ride initiative, we are committed to working with the ECB to help grow the game at all levels.”