BT Sport poaches the 2017-18 Ashes series from Sky

BT Sport poaches the Ashes
Money talks in cricket rights

Just as the latest Ashes series comes to an end, with a rather ignominious defeat for the England team, BT has announced it's sealed the exclusive rights to show the next Ashes series live on BT Sport.

The next Ashes will be played on Australian soil across 2017 and 2018 and will be the first England away Test not on Sky for nearly thirty years.

As part of the deal BT Sport has also acquired the free-to-air rights to daily highlights packages of international matches and will be broadcasting the women's Ashes too.

In order to grab the next Ashes series away from Sky, the BT Sport deal means it will also be showing all Australian home international matches live for the next five years. That includes all test matches, one-day internationals and T20 internationals too.

It's quite a blow to Sky's cricket coverage, though the late night away Ashes series in Australia is arguably the less important one in terms of audience numbers with Sky still retaining the rights to the home Ashes series in 2019.

As Sky's deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board comes to an end in 2019, however, this latest BT Sport coup is likely to worry its negotiators - the next deal is likely to be a lot more expensive to procure.

"BT Sport is delighted to be adding international cricket to its line-up, and to be the new home of the next Ashes tour in Australia," said Delia Bushell, Managing Director of BT TV and BT Sport.

Money talks

Reports say BT Sport outbid Sky by some £20m to bag the next series and it seems that having saved money in some areas it is able to bid big in others.

"Having not overpaid for Premier League rights we feel very confident we're in a good position moving forward," said Bushell at the first Ultra HD Community Shield broadcast earlier in the month. "We're in a good position to bid for the rights we see value in."

It's a big thing for both BT Sport and cricket in general. This deal is likely to push up the price of the next ECB domestic rights deal and that is going to pump even more money into English cricket.

"[BT Sport] are uniquely placed to become one of the UK's largest sports channels and we think cricket can provide the content and opportunities to help them do just that," said Ben Amarfio, General Manager Communications and Marketing for Cricket Australia.

"With more cricket content now available via BT Sport, free-to-air television and through our digital platforms, we are making the game more accessible to more people. The principle of taking the game to more people is very important in our efforts to grow the game."

Though splitting the sport between two pay-TV companies is arguably going to diminish the live audience, which has to be a concern for the consumer.