The Labour party has pledged to add the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup to its list of events to feature on free-to-air television, its manifesto has confirmed.
“Sport enriches our lives, binds communities together and helps us all to stay healthy,” said the 107-page document, unveiled at an event in Birmingham on Thursday. “We will add the ICC Cricket World Cup to the list of crown jewel sporting events that are broadcast free-to-air.”
The crown jewel sports list are exclusive events that must be shown on free-to-air TV. The Cricket World Cup is not on the list and the rights are owned by Star Sports who then distribute the rights to Sky Sports in the UK.
The commitment follows a recent appearance by senior ECB figures before the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Select Committee, with free-to-air access forming a key part of the open debate.
Sunday’s Cricket World Cup final between England and New Zealand at Lord’s will be shown on free-to-air TV after a deal was made between Channel 4 and Sky to broadcast the match. Read more 👇 #CWC19https://t.co/bg6wVEAzmu
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 11, 2019
Unlike its football and rugby counterparts, the Cricket World Cup has not featured on terrestrial TV since the 1999 World Cup.
Sky Sports pledged prior to England’s 2019 semi-final clash against Australia in July that it would make the Cricket World Cup final available on free-to-air TV should the hosts make it to Lord’s. They fulfilled that promise, as England clinched their first World Cup trophy in a thrilling super-over victory over New Zealand, in what will be recalled as one of the greatest matches in limited-overs history.
England’s triumph attracted a peak TV audience of 4.5 million people on Channel 4, as live international cricket returned to free-to-air for the first time in 14 years.
However, the women’s football World Cup and coverage of Wimbledon on the BBC attracted substantially more eyeballs, raising concerns that cricket’s popularity may have declined since it last featured on free-to-air in the 2005 Ashes series.