ICC Media Release
European cricket fans, starved of the chance to watch live international cricket from the UK for almost a decade, will be able to do just that once more thanks to the launch of the England & Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) official broadband TV service, ECBtv.
Most European countries have not shown Tests and ODIs from the UK since the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) lost the broadcasting rights in 1999 but ECBtv will give fans throughout the continent the chance to catch the action once again.
ICC Regional Development Manager Richard Holdsworth said: 'The ECB's launch of ECBtv is great news for the tens of thousands of cricket fans all over Europe. One of the huge problems facing the development of cricket in the region has been the lack of coverage on European TV stations but the launch of ECBtv will help address that issue. For the first time in almost a decade, fans in 24 of the 27 ICC Members throughout Europe now have the opportunity to gain access to live coverage of international cricket in England and Wales and that can only help to stimulate further interest in our great sport.'
There are over 73,000 people that play the game in Europe's ICC Members and the vast majority of them will have the chance to enjoy ECBtv.
The ECB has signed a three-year deal with digital rights company, Premium TV, to produce the broadband channel - as an addition to the ECB's official website www.ecb.co.uk and launched ECBtv to coincide with the first Test between England and Sri Lanka at Lord's last week. ECBtv will show the npower Test and NatWest one-day international matches live to certain territories, as well as match highlights, exclusive interviews, press conferences, coaching master classes and many other features to a global audience.
In addition to the exclusive interviews, the ECBtv console will stream live video coverage of all home npower Test matches and NatWest one-day internationals to identified territories in Europe, South and Central America, Japan and Africa that are not covered by current ECB television deals.
ECBtv users can also access live audio commentary on all England's home internationals, with BBC Radio's Test Match Special being relayed through the channel.
The ECBtv console is a key development for the ECB, which sees broadband as a crucial platform for cricket in England and Wales to build on the popularity enjoyed by the sport during the npower Ashes series in 2005.
The ECB will also be encouraging England players to create their own content for the website. For example, 'Freddiecam' could give fans an exclusive glimpse of how Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff prepares for key matches. ECBtv will capture the atmosphere of the England camp like never before during the 2006 summer - and onwards through The Ashes and ICC Cricket World Cup next winter.
Also embedded in the ECBtv channel will be a searchable video archive (SVA) that allows fans to view extended highlights of England's classic moments on home soil, such as great matches, innings and wickets from as far back as 1970 - meaning classic moments such as Botham's Ashes in 1981 can also be included.
Another feature of ECBtv will be the 'Active Zone', where fans will be able watch tutorials on all key aspects of the game from England players past and present, and see video clips of key grassroots initiatives such as NatWest CricketForce 2006.
And it will house ecb.co.uk's own multimedia archive of video and audio clips, bringing continuing coverage of all aspects of the game outside of the international arena.
Premium TV will work alongside the ECB's broadcast partners to ensure that the online broadcasts are geo-blocked in areas where any conflict with TV broadcast deals exists.
Oliver Slipper, CEO, Premium TV, said: "The ECB signing is yet another example of how PTV can help sports organisations exploit their digital rights by creating a unique service for a very popular platform. ECBtv allows cricket fans to watch top cricket action and exclusive content, when they want to watch it. It also demonstrates how digital rights deals complement rather than compromise TV deals,' he added.
ECBtv can be accessed at www.ecb.co.uk/ecbtv