Channel 4 has secured the rights to screen England’s test series against India when it begins on Friday. It would be the first time that live test cricket has been seen on terrestrial television since the 2005 Ashes series.
The Guardian first reported that global rights holders Star Sports and Channel 4 have now officially signed a contract for the broadcast of the complete tour that consists of four Tests, five Twenty20s and three one-day internationals.
Pay-TV broadcasters Sky Sports and BT Sport, who already cover the national team, had been expected to make their own bid. The Channel 4 contract would allow the rights to be sub-leased to a third party.
Overseas rights involving the Indian team are notoriously slow to conclude. One suggestion was that the cricket be bundled in with Disney+ as part of the launch of the new Star service, but that element of the streaming service is not expected to go live until February 23rd, when the tour will already be underway.
While three of the four Test matches begin at 04.00 UK time, the third Test is a day-night match, starting at 09.00, giving daytime viewing to an audience under lockdown.
Channel 4 last screened Test cricket in 2005, however in 2019 an agreement with Sky allowed coverage of England’s appearance in the World Cup final, which brought in 4.5 million people to the terrestrial station.