BRO0017

Supplementary written evidence submitted by COBA

 

Introduction

 

  1. COBA is the Association for Commercial Broadcasters and On-Demand Services. It represents multichannel broadcasters in the digital, cable and satellite television sector and on-demand services.
  2. COBA members operate a wide variety of services, offering news, factual, children’s, drama, music, arts, entertainment, sports and comedy. Their content is available on free-to-air and pay-TV platforms, as well as on-demand.
  3. COBA members are arguably the fastest growing part of the UK television industry, and are increasing their investment in jobs, UK content and infrastructure. They make this investment without support from the licence fee or indirect support from statutory prominence.
  4. For further information please contact Adam Minns, COBA’s Executive Director, at adam@coba.org.uk or 0203 327 4101.


Response

 

  1. At the request of MPs on the Committee, COBA would like to provide further evidence to the inquiry into broadcasting in Wales on the topic of investment in grassroots cricket, and how this has benefited from competition amongst broadcasters for sports rights.

 

  1. Sky, a COBA member, has been a 30-year partner of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), with exclusive rights to many matches. Sky Sports’ broadcasting package encompasses tests, ODIs and T20s played in England, as well as coverage of the major international tournaments (T20 world cup, one day world cup etc). The ECB and Sky Sports recently announced a new extension to their strategic partnership, which will see more live cricket on Sky Sports, more on free-to-air TV and further increased investment to help grow the game and get more people playing. This four-year extension, which represents an increase in investment on the previous agreement, runs from the start of 2025 until the end of 2028. It includes:

 

 

  1. This longterm partnership has helped support strong growth in turnover for the ECB, and a substantial increase in the body’s investment in grassroots cricket. According to its annual financial statement, the ECB’s turnover for the year ended 31st January 2022 was £303m.[4] This is almost triple the turnover of £111m a year from a decade ago.[5]

 

  1. During this ten-year period, grassroots investment in cricket in England and Wales has increased significantly. Last year, the ECB made a donation to the England and Wales Cricket Trust of £44m for promoting community participation and other grassroots activity. Ten years ago, the annual amount spent on grassroots cricket was around £20m, less than half the current amount.[6]

 

  1. The ECB is on record highlighting the close link between this investment and its sports rights deals. Announcing a deal with Sky, the then ECB Chief Executive David Collier stated:

 

  1. “As a governing body, we are committed to re-investing the revenue we receive from the sale of broadcast rights into the development of the game at grass-roots level in addition to the investment we make in county and international cricket. We are fortunate to have recently secured long-term funding for all sectors of the game following the renewal of our broadcasting agreements which in some cases extend through to 2019. This income will help develop future generations of club and county cricketers and enable us to sustain the success enjoyed by both our England Men’s and Women’s teams in recent years.
  2. In terms of the impact of this grassroots investment, and the sport’s exposure via Sky and other services, last year saw record-breaking engagement for cricket in England and Wales. Alongside the successful launch of The Hundred, where more than half of ticket buyers were new to cricket, the recreational game also went from strength-to-strength. More than 105,000 children took part in the All Stars (5 to 8-year-olds) and Dynamos (8 to 11-year-olds) participation programmes, and there were 10,000 more adult fixtures played than in the summer of 2019. Additionally, women’s cricket is continuing its development. 2021 saw record attendances courtesy of The Hundred, and more than 700 events took place during Women’s Big Cricket Month in June.

20 February 2023


[1] Ofcom International Broadcasting Market Report 2013

[2] Skillset, Television Sector – Labour Market Intelligence Profile

[3] COBA 2019 Content Report, Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates for COBA

[4] https://resources.ecb.co.uk/ecb/document/2022/05/18/5405823f-d903-49dc-a9d5-f70f917ba953/Financial-Statements-202122.pdf

[5] https://www.statista.com/statistics/464184/ecb-turnover/

 

[6] https://www.kentcricket.co.uk/news/ecb-set-to-exceed-government-target-for-investment-in-grassroots-cricket/