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Murdoch’s BSkyB bags media rights for IPL for the first time

MUMBAI: British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), the UK arm of Rupert Murdoch-owned Twenty First Century Fox, has pipped ITV Network to secure the media rights for the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) for three years.

BSkyB has been awarded the telecast, internet and mobile rights for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons of the IPL, for the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and the European territories.

Sky Sports will show the IPL exclusively live for the first time. Setanta Sports UK was the official broadcaster of IPL for first two seasons till it shut shop in June 2009. Since then the ITV Network has been televising IPL matches in UK.

Viewers will be able to enjoy 60 live matches each year, as Sky Sports adds the drama, colour and excitement of the IPL for at least three years from 2015.

The agreement strengthens Sky’s schedule of live year-round cricket which includes England home and away, plus coverage from Australia, India, South Africa, the West Indies and New Zealand.

From next year, only Sky Sports viewers be able to enjoy the world’s top four domestic Twenty20 cricket competitions; the IPL, the ECB’s NatWest T20 Blast, Australia’s Big Bash League and South Africa’s Ram Slam T20 Challenge.

Of late, the competition in the UK sports broadcasting market has heated up with the arrival of BT Sport. The new channel has given tough competition to Sky Sports by snaffling rights for various properties like Premier League, FA Cup, Serie A, and Bundesliga.

BT Sport, though, has not been as aggressive on cricket as it has been with soccer and other sports. Its cricket bouquet is limited to the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

Sky Sports MD Barney Francis said, “It’s the cricket competition that everyone is talking about and from next year, only on Sky Sports can viewers follow the IPL live. Sky Sports’ cricket coverage has never been stronger, offering something for everyone including all the major Test playing nations and all the best players. We can’t wait. Before then, our cricket continues with the best action including ICC World Twenty20 next month and England’s summer Tests against Sri Lanka and India.”

The agreement is the latest in a series of long-term rights announcements made by Sky Sports, strengthening its unrivalled portfolio of live sport across six channels. Last month, Sky announced agreements for British & Irish Lions, Super League, WWE, Scottish Football, Cricket New Zealand and speedway and last week a seven-year deal for live PGA Tour golf.

Cricket coverage on Sky Sports features analysis from some of the biggest names in the sport, including Sir Ian Botham, Shane Warne, David Gower, Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, David Lloyd and Michael Holding. The latest cricket news, results and views are also available every day on skysports.com and Sky Sports News HD.