The Early Courtship of Television and Sport: The Case of Cricket, 1938-1956



Haynes R (2009) The Early Courtship of Television and Sport: The Case of Cricket, 1938-1956. Journal of Sport History, 36 (3), pp. 415-431.

The televising of cricket in Britain began in the pioneering days of broadcasting during the inter-War period. In a contemporary context the relationship between television and sport is now so well ingrained that it is difficult to imagine one without the other, as the income from rights fees and the exposure of sponsors and advertisers through the small screen drives the professional sports economy. This article traces a specific narrative of the early coverage of Test and County Cricket in England. Based on archival evidence held by the MCC and the BBC the article outlines how the marriage of television and cricket as a spectator sport tentatively began in 1938 and 1939, and then developed more formally in the decade after the Second World War. The history of negotiations over access to cricket, first with the public service broadcaster the BBC, and subsequently by commercial television, known as Independent Television (ITV) from 1955, reveals the origins of rights fees to sport and how competition for exclusive coverage led to regulatory intervention to ensure fairness between broadcasters. The relationship between the MCC and the County cricket clubs is explored in the context of managing the balance between television as commercial opportunity and as a threat to attendance at matches.

Cricket; Television; Sport; Broadcasting; Television broadcasting of sports; Television and sports; Cricket Great Britain History

Journal of Sport History: Volume 36, Issue 3

Publication date31/12/2009
PublisherThe North American Society for Sport History
Publisher URL…frontispiece.pdf

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Professor Richard Haynes

Professor Richard Haynes

Professor, Communications, Media and Culture