BT Sport grab 2017-18 Ashes TV rights from rivals Sky Sports in £80m coup

  • BT Sport secure rights to Australia home matches for next five years
  • Contract is believed to be costing BT Sport around £16m a year
  • Shane Warne launched obscene insult at Sports Agenda columnist

England's cricketers were not the only ones celebrating an Ashes win on Sunday night - so were BT Sport, who have seized the rights to the 2017-18 series Down Under from arch-rivals Sky in a major coup.

In a move that demonstrates BT will challenge Sky strongly on the cricket field as well as on the football pitch, the network have secured the UK contract for Aussie home matches from Cricket Australia for the next five years.

The deal was confirmed by BT on Monday morning and is believed to be costing them around £16million a year.

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England captain Alastair Cook celebrates winning the Ashes 3-2 at the Oval on Sunday

The deal's centrepiece is the next Ashes clash in 2017-18, when the home side will be hellbent on regaining the urn.

Losing that showcase series is a massive blow to Sky, whose cricket coverage has set new standards. Only football is more important to the broadcaster than cricket.

But Sky, following their £11m-a-match Premier League deal, were not able to compete with BT's £80m offer for cricket rights,which starts with the Australian 2016-17 season.

And BT, as they have shown with their Champions League production, will want to put their own stamp on cricket rather than just hiring Sky personnel. 

Sky, having to be more pragmatic with their rights-buying since investing so much in the Premier League, will point to a lot of the Ashes action in Australia taking place overnight. 

The rights also include the hugely successful 35 KFC Big Bash League matches, which see international stars flocking down under, including South African legend Jacques Kallis and former England international Kevin Pietersen. BT Sport will also show the women's Ashes and the women's T20 Big Bash League. 

BT will broadcast all of Australia's home Tests for the next five years starting in November

Delia Bushell, Managing Director of BT TV and BT Sport, said: '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. We will show live domestic games featuring the best players in the world during the Big Bash League and all Australian home matches for the next five years.'

Cricket Australia Executive General Manager of Media, Communications & Marketing Ben Amarfio said: 'We are delighted to be partnering with BT Sport in bringing these matches and many others involving the Australian cricket team to British audiences.

'BT Sport put forward a highly compelling bid for the rights to broadcast cricket from Australia to audiences throughout the United Kingdom.

 

Adam Lyth, whose England Test career is almost certainly over after failing with the bat in every Ashes match, will nevertheless be taking delivery of his sponsored car, a £55,000 Toyota Land Cruiser, over the next month. Lyth is entitled to the vehicle because of his incremental ECB central contract, which he will probably lose in October. At least the Yorkshire opener will be able to keep his England car until May.

Adam Lyth (above) will do well to keep his England place after a poor series with the bat

 

After those infamous leaks of the damning RFU report into England's showing at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, it's surprising Twickenham should have ordered a '360 degree' staff review ahead of the 2015 tournament. The survey — highly divisive if the contents are made public — requires RFU personnel to anonymously give opinions about their line managers. An RFU spokesman said 360 surveys were standard practice for numerous companies.

 

The preening football bosses who love to bathe in the glory should note the reaction of England cricket management duo Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace when Alastair Cook, Joe Root and others beckoned them to join the Ashes celebrations. They stayed in the dressing room, not wanting to take any of the spotlight from the players.

England head coach Trevor Bayliss (left) and his assistant Paul Farbrace celebrate winning the Ashes

 

Warne on the warpath

The last day of the Ashes wouldn't have been the same without an obscene insult from Sky's useless pundit Shane Warne.

The former leg-spinner criticised the Oval selection of Australia's outstanding bowler Peter Siddle, as well as saying England's Moeen Ali — a devout Muslim who doesn't drink and even avoided the champagne spray — wanted to 'get on it' celebrating the Ashes success.

Then, on crossing paths with your Sports Agenda columnist who has reflected the views of many in panning him as a TV analyst, he said: 'You're a low-a***d leech. I'll knock you out and kick you when you're down. You're a c***.'

Luckily for Warne, his Sky boss Barney Francis, who abhors use of the 'c' word, is on holiday.

Shane Warne waslks ahead of Sir Ian Botham on the Oval outfield ahead of the first day of the fifth Test

 

The ECB commercial department will hope the Ashes triumph helps their uphill search for a sponsor to replace Liverpool Victoria as title backers of the County Championship. But uncertainty surrounding proposals to reduce the number of four-day games from 16 to 14, leading to the unsatisfactory situation of counties playing some opponents twice and others once, will not aid the search.

 

Top sports PR operator Colin Gibson — former FA, ECB and ICC communications chief — has been appointed to the same post by the Asian Football Confederation. Their main powerbrokers, Sheik Ahmad al-Sabah of Kuwait and Bahrain's Sheik Salman, are backing UEFA supremo Michel Platini's FIFA presidential bid.

 

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