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Free to air events?


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I think the ECB is being a little short-sighted in claiming that adding home Ashes series to the "crown jewels" list will cost them huge amounts of money.


True, Sky can pay significantly more for the broadcast rights than either the BBC or ITV. But the free to air channels can provide a vastly bigger audience and make a truely national event out of a Test series, which increases the opportunities for the sale of ECB branded merchandise and makes sponsorship rights much more valuable.


I reckon with a bit of business accumen, the ECB could come out ahead on the deal.

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That is true until such time as Sky have everyone as a subscriber..... then what?


Even if everyone in the country were a Sky subscriber, only a small proportion of them would probably pay for the premium sports channels that an Ashes series would be shown on.


What helped to make the 2005 Ashes series a national event was that people who wouldn't normally have watched cricket - and certainly wouldn't have paid for it in advance - could tune in and watch a bit here and there. This lead to interest, and audiences, gradually increasing throughout the series as it built to a climax.


Contrast the scenes of thousands of people lining the route followed by the open topped bus carrying the England team to Trafalgar Square in 2005, then the teams reception at Downing Street, with the almost non-existent celebrations following this years victory after a much more nail-biting final day of the final Test. Just a pity that so few people got to see it.

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