Cricket Australia has announced that the Seven Network and Foxtel will remain the sport’s broadcasters in Australia for the next seven years in a $1.5 billion deal.

The deal draws a line under the relationship between Cricket Australia (CA) and their lead broadcaster, with Seven withdrawing legal proceedings relating to the effects of the COVID pandemic on recent seasons.

The announcement of the new deal also includes confirmation that the Big Bash League T20 competition will be reduced in size from 61 games to 43.

After a bidding process with reported interest from a range of media including Channel 10 and Paramount, CA announced the rights deal on Tuesday morning.

The Foxtel Group (including pay-TV provider Fox Sports and streaming service Kayo Sports), Seven and its streaming service 7plus will broadcast Australian men’s and women’s internationals as well as the WBBL and BBL for a further seven years.

The existing six-year deal runs out in 2024.

The $1.512 billion deal represents a payment increase of 10.5 per cent per year. 

Under the deal, there will be two five-test Ashes home series against England, and two five-test home series against India.

For the first time, all Seven games — all men’s tests and women’s internationals, 23 WBBL matches and 33 of the 43 BBL matches — will also be streamed on 7plus.

All games will be live on Fox Cricket and Kayo including  Australian men’s white-ball internationals and 10 exclusive BBL games.

The women’s international program will increase, with home multi-format series against India, England and South Africa in the first three years of the deal.

There had been criticism of the length of the men’s Big Bash competition, amid reduced crowds and TV ratings.

Cricket Australia said the new, smaller season would allow for “increased player availability, greater proportion of prime-time matches and stronger alignment with school holidays.” 

CA chief executive Nick Hockley said in a statement he was delighted by the new deal.

“The quality and reach of the Foxtel Group and Seven’s cricket production is first class and the outstanding service they provide cricket fans was a strong consideration in our decision to continue with this successful partnership,” Hockley said.

“The breadth and quality of cricket to be played in Australia over the coming summers is extraordinary and we are looking forward to working with our partners to not only televise the games, but to promote and grow cricket by encouraging more kids to pick up a bat and ball.” 

Seven West Media managing director and CEO, James Warburton, thanked Hockley and the Cricket Australia team for their “continued efforts to drive cricket”, and in particular the improvements to the BBL. 

“A comprehensive package of digital rights to the cricket for 7plus will ensure that for the first time, our viewers will be able to access cricket, live and free, in a way that suits them,” Warburton said.

“Our combined broadcast and digital rights for both cricket and the AFL means Seven and 7plus will be the home of sport all year round.”

More to come.