BBC claw back lost ground

So, the BBC are going to broadcast highlights of the Ashes this winter – an interesting development as it appears to have come from nowhere. Sky, who were awarded the rights from the ECB almost exactly 12 months ago (earning the English board a reported £200m) – a decision which caused the ECB to hide under the table, with just their greens for comfort in the Anderson shelter. The doodle-bug passed by, though.

Initially I was angry at the ECB – angry at Sky, too. But it’s not Sky’s fault they have the money to beat off the competition; it’s also the apathy, or disinterest of certain other broadcasters, which ended free-to-air cricket. I wonder now if the BBC are starting to regret it.

At the BBC’s Sports Editor’s blog, the director of BBC Sport, Roger Mosey says:

Now, before anyone says it: yes, we’re talking today about highlights and not live cricket on TV. The question of live cricket returning to the BBC is something we’re keeping under review for the future when the contracts next become available.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but “…something we’re keeping under review for the future” is either a typo or suggests the Beeb are almost certainly going to bid for the rights in 2009. When I first read it, I thought Roger said “keeping under wraps” and it still smacks of that.

A criticism, though. With the greatest respect and understanding of the arduous task a TV scheduler must have, the decision to air the highlights a mere couple of hours before the next day’s play is ridiculous. It’s almost not worth having them at all. If I was just a fan and not writing about the game, I’d still sign up to Sky in spite of the BBC’s highlights gesture.

I remain a fan of the Beeb though. Their website is outstanding; they’ve grasped Web 2.0 and are breaking new ground each year. It’s just a shame that they spend more money on makeover shows like What Donkeys Shouldn’t Wear At Christmas rather than what the public really want: live sport.

Anyway, it’s very much a moot point and outdated too. Sky have it, so get over it. They’re ploughing a lot of money into the English game, too.

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