The days of free-to-air, televised live cricket coverage are long gone. Most televised live cricket is now via satellite subscription channels, while free viewing is limited to highlights packages. But, though the compensations include high quality commentary, and a wide range of high-tech analysis tools on TV, are you prepared to pay for the privilege?
Some of these channels also broadcast live cricket on the internet, radio and mobile and transmit to large parts of the globe. The increased choice of media and wide global coverage by the major broadcasters is an increasing trend, and is good news for cricket fans, as a spot of healthy competition is sure to drive down pay-per-view prices.
Pay-per-view cricket is widely available, so here is a little information about the biggest and the best channels. Your global location dictates which live cricket channel your TV can receive, and whether this is via satellite, cable or both.
British Sky Broadcasting (Sky Sports) provide an excellent service to UK and Ireland viewers, but not elsewhere. There’s a high standard of commentary from ex test players, live action and highlights, and lots of high tech analysis to promote discussion. Sky shows live cricket coverage from all over the world.
If you subscribe to Sky Sports and Sky Multiroom, you can also receive the same Sky Sports live cricket coverage as a live stream broadcast over broadband internet on your PC. This is a new service and there are a few technology issues. You’ll have to pay extra for each cricket event, as with other online streaming services. This is for the really keen cricket fan, as Sky Multiroom means that you can already watch the cricket on at least two other screens in your home. The downside of Sky is the cost and commitment, as only their more expensive contract packages include Sky Sports.
Channel Nine has historically broadcast live cricket free-to-air in Australia, but since 1995, Fox Sports satellite coverage has provided stiff competition. However, ESPN Star Sports now have exclusive rights to broadcast Cricket Australia’s domestic and home international matches for four years, across TV, internet, mobile and radio covering the entire Asian region.
The latest major development in live cricket broadcasting was in June 2007, when the ESPN Star cable TV network launched a 24 hour cricket channel called Star Cricket targeting Indian audiences. ESPN Star has a massive audience, transmitting to 25 countries and 150 million households across Asia. Star Cricket is also available via the satellite broadcasters TataSky TV and Dish TV. It includes live cricket, highlights and cricket news updates, a real feast for cricket fans.
Ten Sports is also a major satellite sports channel for South Asian customers, and transmits live international cricket to the sub continent, Middle East, Europe and Asia. Its available on digital TV and cable.
Many live cricket transmissions are also available on the internet – check out my article on live cricket streaming. This is a major advance in the last couple of years and I’m looking forward to what will be available to us in another year or so. It does seem certain that technological advances and increased competition will bring us more options for live coverage and hopefully at a lower cost.