Returning to a familiar topic, I note that there are no Ashes highlights on Channel 5 this winter. Instead they’ll be broadcast on Pick TV – Sky’s free-to-air channel available on most platforms including Freeview. They’ll be broadcast nightly at 10pm, just before play begins the following day. Live coveragewill of course be on Sky Sports.
I shall just note that they’re not being broadcast on Channel 5 – I can only assume because either they cost too much for Richard Desmond to stump up, or they were not offered to Channel 5 at all. Instead Sky will put them out on the channel that’s the home of Motorway Patrol and Border Security (OK – they do show the odd decent show too).
It’s worth noting that highlights of England Test matches overseas are not a Listed Event and so Sky is well within its rights to do this.
But in case you’re thinking, “Well it’s on Pick TV which is free to air, so everyone can watch anyway,” then think again.
The Freeview multiplex that Pick TV is broadcast on is available to a little under 90% of Freeview homes. Just over 10% of Freeview homes are unable to receive Pick TV. Not terrible, but not up to the coverage of public service broadcasters which are around 98.5%.
If you don’t offer access to a broad audience for your sport, then do not expect too much from the next generation. Cricket, as I’ve said many times before, is treading down this path, with no free-to-air cricket available in the UK.
Note: I write this as someone who watches cricket, and subscribes to Sky Sports. And I’ve updated the numbers to properly reflect Pick TV’s Freeview coverage.