Channel 4 confirm India vs England series as Test cricket returns to free-to-air TV

Will Macpherson
·1-min read
Channel 4 last showed Test cricket during the 2005 Ashes series  (Getty Images)
Channel 4 last showed Test cricket during the 2005 Ashes series (Getty Images)

Channel 4 have finally confirmed that they have the exclusive UK rights to England’s series in India, meaning Test cricket will return to free-to-air TV for the first time in 16 years this Friday.

Channel 4 held the broadcast right for six years until the iconic summer of 2005, when England ended a long barren run without the Ashes. Since then, all England’s home Tests have been broadcast by Sky, who have also held the rights for most overseas action.

But Channel 4 have beaten off competition from the likes of Sky and BT to win an eleventh hour race for the rights. Such late decisions are not unusual when it comes to broadcast rights involving the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Star Sports.

The attraction of the rights for this particular series to a free to air broadcast is obvious. England are an exciting side on an upward curve under Joe Root, while India – led by Virat Kohli – just pulled off an historic win in Australia. With the public locked down and many working from home, there is scope for big audiences – not least in the Third Test of the series, which is a day-nighter in Ahmedabad. Play will begin at 9am in that match, and 4am in the other three.

Channel 4’s Chief Content Officer Ian Katz said: “This is fantastic news for all cricket fans in the UK. It’s been a long 16-year wait for the return of live Test cricket to free to air television but it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“What better antidote to the lockdown blues than an England Test series in sunny India.”

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