The ECB are having kittens at the possibility of Ashes Tests being broadcast on free-to-air channels and the consequent loss of Sky's multi million pound payout.
Why don't they come to an agreement with Sky whereby they give them the test match contract for the next five years for whatever Sky are prepared to bid for it on the understanding that Sky agree to show the home Ashes Tests in 2013 via a 'free' channel - it can't be that much of a technical stretch to arrange on Freeview can it?
They can keep the highlights on the normal Sky Sports channels, and can continue to carry advertising during the live coverage. Better still, they could probably charge a premium for the advertising slots, knowing that the coverage will be seen by a larger audience than the usual million or so who currently watch Sky's test coverage.
I have to confess that I haven't totally thought this through, so there may well be an obvious glitch to the idea, but there doesn't appear to be a downside. Everyone wins -
- Sky keep their test coverage
- ECB still get Sky's money
- Viewers get to watch Ashes cricket
- Advertisers reach a bigger audience