England’s tour to India is the subject of a television rights bidding war, but with a week to go before the first Test fans are still waiting to discover how they will be able to watch the action. Telegraph Sport revealed before Christmas that Star India, who control the rights to India cricket, were considering screening the tour in the UK live via their Hotstar streaming app instead of selling on the rights to a traditional broadcaster such as Sky or BT Sport. But India’s win in Australia and good audience figures on Sky for England’s recent series in Sri Lanka, has increased the market for the rights with even Channel 4 showing an interest. The rights, worth around £20m, are expected to be settled in the next few days but time is running out with England arriving in India on Wednesday. The first Test starts next Friday, February 5. The tour includes four Tests, five T20s and three ODIs from February 5 to March 28. The third Test in Ahmedabad is a floodlit match which means it starts at 9am, a more civilised time for a UK audience to tune in. With millions working from home in lockdown, the Test matches are expected to draw record audiences for an England overseas tour. Three scenarios are in play. BT Sport and Sky remain the likeliest traditional subscription service to win the rights. Sky have shown almost all of England’s cricket tours over the past 30 years. BT Sport has rights to Australian cricket and screened the last Ashes tour. Channel 4’s interest is a surprise but they would be welcomed by many in the game as free-to-air broadcasters. They will face challenges around scheduling the cricket at such short notice and marketing the tour in time. The third scenario is for Star to retain the rights and show them on Hotstar in a bid to increase subscriptions to the streaming service, which is viewed as the future model for broadcasters. Sources have also indicated a combination of Hotstar and a terrestrial partner is a possibility as well.
Players' union survey claims widespread racism in English cricket38% of BAME respondents say they have experienced abusePCA survey taken as part of wider education programme Kent players take a knee at the Kia Oval. The players’ union survey was a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Photograph: Nick Wood/TGS Photo/Rex/Shutterstock
England arrived in Chennai today for the first two of four brutal Tests in India without three players who helped them to a 2-0 victory in Sri Lanka: Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Sam Curran. Another, Jos Buttler, will fly home after six days’ quarantine, three days’ prep and five days’ cricket, missing the last three Tests. Already in Chennai, halfway through their quarantine, were Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, rested for Sri Lanka.