Sky's Rebranded Ashes Channel Hopes To Fight Off Challenger BT Sport This Summer
Sky is "planning to rebrand one of its channels for a single sport for the first time as it establishes Sky Ashes," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Sky Sports 2 "will be renamed as Sky Ashes" for 63 days over the summer to "provide a home for Sky's live Ashes coverage." The move comes just before the launch of BT Sport, Sky's "most serious rival yet." It will "also feature the women's Ashes, domestic cricket and various magazine and review shows, with the aim of underlining the broadcaster's commitment to cricket." The rebranding operation "takes in the period when BT Sport is expected to launch two sports channels." BT Sport will offer its coverage, plus ESPN, free to any customer taking its broadband package. The move "is expected to usher in a new era of competition for Sky, which has previously seen off ITV Digital and Setanta" (GUARDIAN, 6/13).
WALL-TO-WALL CRICKET: In Manchester, Denise Evans reported the channel "will be available at no extra cost to customers." England cricket legend and Sky Sports commentator Ian Botham said, "This is wall-to-wall cricket, on one channel, for the key months of the summer. The Ashes is the pinnacle of Test cricket and when it comes to television, cricket fans have never had it so good" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 6/13). In London, David Kent reported Sky has an agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board to provide England int'ls through '17, and "will hope this channel will outline their commitment to the sport." Sky has "impressed viewers with their coverage of cricket up until now with uninterrupted coverage, especially as the two Ashes series screened by Channel Four featured over 33 hours of interruptions for horse racing." Sky Go will "mean that the channel will be available on PC and mobile devices'' (DAILY MAIL, 6/13).