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Cricket Ireland secure lucrative TV rights deal with Sky Sports and RTÉ for first Test

The governing body is set to generate close to €2 million in broadcasting fees this summer.

Ireland face Pakistan at Malahide next month.
Ireland face Pakistan at Malahide next month.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRELAND’S HISTORIC FORAY into Test cricket will be broadcast around the world after Cricket Ireland today confirmed a lucrative television rights deal, including packages with Sky Sports and RTÉ.

Graham Ford’s side will play their maiden Test match against Pakistan in Malahide from 11 May and Sky have secured the exclusive ball-by-ball rights in the UK and Ireland market, while RTÉ will carry a nightly one-hour highlights show.

The largest-ever broadcast deal in Irish cricket history also includes coverage of Ireland’s two Twenty20 internationals against India in Dublin on 27 and 29 June, with Cricket Ireland set to generate €1.8 million in broadcasting fees this summer.

Today’s announcement follows a lengthy procurement process involving event management company Pitch International, who have sold the overseas television rights for next month’s Test match to a number of countries around the world, including key markets in USA, Canada, the Middle East, south Asia and Australia.

Sky Sports has established itself as a market leader in terms of cricket coverage and has regularly broadcast Ireland matches across its platforms, including the first international game to be played in Malahide back in 2013.

“This broadcast package is set to break Irish sporting records, as we anticipate that the T20 series against India alone will be the biggest worldwide TV audience of any event – sporting or otherwise – ever staged in Ireland,” Cricket Ireland CEO, Warren Deutrom, said.

“Since being confirmed as a full member of the International Cricket Council in June 2017, we have seen unprecedented interest in Irish cricket — most notably from a range of potential broadcast partners.

“We are delighted to announce today the structure of the broadcasting schedule for the coming season, and we anticipate our fans worldwide will be pleased with the comprehensive nature of the package.”

Warren Deutrom Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

While it was always envisaged that the live rights would be sold to a pay-per-view broadcaster, RTÉ’s decision to add cricket to its sports portfolio is an unprecedented move, with eir Sport and BBC NI previously showing the sport here.

The national broadcaster will have Test match and T20 highlight shows on RTÉ2, as well as the RTÉ Player.

“Cricket Ireland’s long journey to Test status reaches a fitting conclusion with a first-ever Test Match at home against Pakistan and it is appropriate that the national broadcaster should be there to bring highlights of this historic occasion to Irish viewers free-to-air,” Ryle Nugent, RTÉ head of sport, said.

“RTÉ Sport will also have highlights of both of Ireland’s home T20 Internationals versus India. It’s a fantastic start to the new chapter in Irish Cricket and RTÉ Sport are delighted to bring these games to the Irish audience.”

Furthermore, Cricket Ireland has also announced a deal for in-ground advertising rights for the visit of Pakistan and India, with Indian-based company ITW Consulting in the process of selling title sponsorship rights.

It all represents a remarkable spike in commercial revenue for Cricket Ireland on the back of ascension to full membership status of the ICC.

Deutrom added: “Revenues have certainly increased, but so too have costs of staging the events. We are essentially building a pop-up cricket stadium on a greenfield site, but we understand we have to take risks if we are to compete with the big beasts of the GAA, rugby and football.

“This summer pushes us forward as an organisation and as a sport — it is a real investment in making cricket a mainstream sport in Ireland.”

Head coach Ford will name his squad for Ireland’s Test against Pakistan at a press conference next Friday.

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