Sky posts bumper figures & extends ECB deal

A busy day for the UK’s BSkyB which, along with unveiling some fairly astonishing figures for the last quarter of 2011, also announced that it had locked down the rights to live international and county cricket under a new deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board.

First off those figures though, which are impressive to say the least, the broadcaster recording its highest ever first-half adjusted operating profit, up 16% at £601 million. Nearly 10 and a half million customers in the UK and Ireland now take Sky services, while churn has held steady at 9.6%. despite the economic climate.

Sport has, of course, had rather a lot to do with that.

“The quarter concluded a very successful calendar year in sport in which we broadcast more live events for Sky viewers than ever before,” said a statement. “Our mobile sports content is proving increasingly popular with customers and with live mobile streaming via apps for smart phones and tablets, customers can access live action or updates in more ways than ever before. In combination with good growth in movie customers, we closed the half with our highest ever level of subscribers to our premium channels across all platforms. Looking ahead, we have a strong line-up for customers. In addition to our coverage of The Masters, the Ryder Cup and England cricket tours and home series, we have also agreed a new four year deal to broadcast live international and county cricket, continuing our successful partnership with the ECB. In March, we will launch our dedicated Formula 1 (F1) channel, Sky Sports F1 HD, giving in-depth access to all 20 Grand Prix at no extra charge for Sky TV customers who subscribe to Sky Sports 1 and 2 or our HD pack.”

There are potential wrinkles – the pub and club market is weak and there is some long term uncertainty about the implications of the ECJ judgement regarding intellectual property – but when you add in initiatives such as the launch of a new internet-based TV platform that it is positioning as an additional choice for those who do not currently subscribe to a pay-TV service, it’s not going to be taking them lying down.

And with England currently at the top of the test cricket playing tree – despite the current series loss to Pakistan in the Middle East – it has moved aggressively to maintain its stranglehold on English cricket.

With the existing deal concluding at the end of 2013, the new deal begins in 2014 and continues until the end of the summer in 2017. Sky Sports has been awarded exclusive live coverage of:

  • TEST MATCHES – all of England’s Test matches played at home, including series against India (2014), Australia (2015), Pakistan (2016) and South Africa (2017).
  • INTERNATIONALS – all One-Day Internationals and T20 matches, plus selected fixtures including England Lions and women’s matches.
  • COUNTY MATCHES – at least 60 days of domestic cricket each summer covering each of the major competitions and including every county.

The new deal will take Sky’s partnership with the ECB for exclusive live cricket in England and Wales into its 12th year. There is also an option for Sky to extend the deal for an additional two years to cover tours by India in 2018 and Australia in 2019.


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