No players... and now no TV coverage for England's trip to Bangladesh
No UK TV or radio broadcast deal has been agreed to show England's white-ball tour of Bangladesh which starts in less than a month's time.
It would appear that potential broadcasters are delaying their run in a bid to secure a cut-price deal with a growing belief in the industry that sports rights – not least bilateral international cricket – are overpriced.
Jos Buttler's side will play three One Day Internationals and Twenty20 internationals at the start of March with a weakened side due to overlapping Test commitments and a number of players, including Alex Hales, opting to play in the Pakistan Super League instead.
Fans in the UK will not be able to watch the tour unless a last-minute deal is struck. Despite lukewarm interest until the last few days, there is growing confidence that a deal will happen on both platforms with Sky Sports and talkSPORT seen to be favourites to secure the TV and radio rights respectively at a relatively cheap price.
Sky’s main competition appears not to come from BT Sport, who are broadcasting England’s Test series in New Zealand this month, but Viaplay, who are showing the Bangladesh Premier League. Were Viaplay to secure the rights, it would mean England’s three series between January and March were all broadcast on different channels, requiring three subscriptions.
It is understood there is little to no interest from free-to-air broadcasters. Channel 4 have dipped back into the cricket market in recent years (such as for England’s Tests in India in 2021), while the BBC broadcast a handful of home internationals and a chunk of the Hundred.
If talkSPORT are able to secure a deal, they would have hold the rights for all three of England men’s series this year: they are already broadcasting the ODIs in South Africa and Tests in New Zealand (with whom they have a three-year deal).
Whether the BBC bid remains to be seen. They have exclusive rights to action at home, broadcast the Tests in Pakistan in December, and are also doing the women’s World Cup in South Africa.
If talkSPORT were to win the rights it would follow a pattern whereby they broadcast overseas bilateral men’s internationals, while BBC Test Match Special broadcast ICC events and the Ashes.
It is not altogether unusual for TV rights deals in certain nations not to be agreed until a few weeks before a series, but leaving late can have significant knock-ons for the coverage offered, including whether broadcasters send a team to the country in question.