Cricket West Indies (CWI) labeled as “ground-breaking” a new broadcast rights deal with American sports cable giants, ESPN+, which will see the delivery of all West Indies’ Tests, One-Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals in the ICC Future Tours Program starting from March.
The board has been without a rights deal for the last year but will now see the upcoming home tours by Sri Lanka, South Africa, Australia and Pakistan later this year televised by North America’s largest sports broadcaster.
Marquee tours by England and India next year will also fit into the commercial deal and CWI president, Ricky Skerritt, said the latest development was “just the start of good things to come.”
“This is CWI’s largest-ever media rights agreement in the USA and is the first of several new multi-year agreements which we will confirm in the coming weeks,” Skerritt said in a statement.
“Broadcast media rights income is crucial to the future financial sustainability of CWI, and this five-year rights agreement is just the start of good things to come.”
Already on unsteady financial footing prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, CWI found itself in dire straits after the virus caused the postponement of all scheduled home series last year.
The governing body was forced to slash staff salaries and overheads last May and reduce its overall funding of cricket development throughout the region in an attempt to stay afloat.
CWI’s CEO, Johnny Grave, said the deal represented the opportunity for growth for the organization, providing a platform to achieve its strategic goals.
“ESPN is the sports channel for American households and sports fans and we’re delighted that West Indies cricket will now be enjoyed in the homes and on the devices of millions of Americans,” he pointed out.
“We have an ambitious strategic plan to grow our brand and content in North America, and ESPN is the perfect partner to help us achieve our goals.”
John Lasker, ESPN’s Vice President of Digital Media Programming, said West Indies cricket retained a marketing appeal that made it important to their broadcast thrust.
“Cricket West Indies is among the best in the world and their ICC schedule over the next few years is second to none,” Lasker said.
“Cricket has always been a priority for us with ESPNcrincinfo leading the way as the premier destination for cricket coverage and news.
“Adding a strong slate of CWI events to ESPN+ is just the latest example of our commitment to cricket and serving fans with the best, most comprehensive cricket content in the US.”
Covered under the new agreement is CWI’s Super50 Cup which bowls off in Antigua from February 7-27.