Television

Nimbus signs four year deal for India cricket with Sky Sports

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MUMBAI: After all the talk of a shutout, some good news for English cricket fans wishing to follow their team's progress. Sky Sports has won the rights from Nimbus Sport to broadcast England's tour of India starting with the First Test from Nagpur on 1 March 2006.

It is the first series in a 4-year agreement that includes England's next series against India in 2009 as well as eight other international series, and Indian domestic cricket.

When asked by Indiantelevision.com on how much Sky has paid to acquire the rights, Nimbus chairman Harish Thawani said he was in no position to reveal the figures.

UK's Telegraph has however, reported Sky paid about ?10 million for the package. What this seems to indicate is that Nimbus' boss Harish Thawani finally did get close to what was his asking price for the cricket property. Earlier reports in the British press quoting industry insiders had said that talks had broken down after Nimbus hiked its asking price to over ?5 million for the current series. This was a five-fold increase from the past wherein BSkyB had secured rights for matches involving India and England for well short of ?1 million.

Since the rights that Nimbus has secured involves to England tours (the current one and another in 2008) that effectively works out to ?5 million for each series.

The two companies were engaged in intense negotiations after Nimbus won the telecast rights to India cricket for the next four years. Speaking earlier to the Sunday Telegraph, Thawani had said, "We find the terms offered by Sky Sports to be singularly unattractive. We will demonstrate there are some alternatives for cricket in the UK. Their [Sky Sports'] monopoly has just ended."

What has finally panned out as regards the deal is that Sky gets exclusivity on the England tours and non-exclusive coverage of the eight India home series not featuring England that Nimbus holds rights to.

BSkyB has had a virtual monopoly on England's overseas Tests for over 10 years and that continues uninterrupted for a further four years.

Nimbus today announced that, in addition to Sky Sports, it shall be licensing a South Asian language network the rights to broadcast live the eight India home series not featuring England. A separate announcement in this regard shall be made at a later date, the company said.

Sources had earlier told Indiantelevision.com that the non-England series would be telecast on Sony Entertainment Television and Pakistan's Geo TV. However, sources in Sony have denied that they had reached agreement on the matter, so it might finally be Geo TV that will be airing the matches.

Nimbus Sport CEO Digvijay Singh said, "Both Sky Sports and Nimbus Sport walked the extra mile to ensure that sports fans in the UK can view the best of Indian cricket. In Sky Sports we have found the ideal platform to showcase this exciting package of events. Sky Sports' commitment to international and domestic cricket augurs well for fans of Indian cricket in the UK."

Sky Sports MD Vic Wakeling said, "Apart from the two tours by England, there are some exciting series planned in India over the next four years. We are delighted that subscribers to Sky Sports will be able to see them all."

The agreement was signed last night with Nimbus Sport whose offer for worldwide rights to cricket in India was accepted by the BCCI last Friday. Four former England captains - Mike Atherton, Ian Botham, David Gower and Nasser Hussain - are flying out this weekend to join the Nimbus Sport commentary team in India.

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