Whisper to produce England cricket highlights for BBC and ECB
Whisper, the UK-based production firm, has won two new contracts to produce highlights packages for public-service broadcaster the BBC and the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Under the deal with the BBC, which was mooted back in December, Whisper will deliver the broadcaster’s peak-time cricket highlights show of England’s upcoming test cricket series with West Indies, which starts this Wednesday.
The ‘multi-year’ contract also includes television highlights for all domestic test matches, one-day international matches and T20 international matches.
In a separate contract with the ECB, Whisper will produce a range of online highlights and clips for the ECB throughout 2020. It includes all tests, ODIs and T20s across both men’s and women’s international teams.
For the BBC output, Whisper has been tasked with “maximising the reach and impact of cricket”, while for the ECB, it has been tasked with growing audiences using social media.
Whisper, co-founded by chief executive Sunil Patel, BT Sport broadcaster Jake Humphry and former Formula 1 driver and commentator David Coulthard, has a highlights portfolio which also includes rugby union’s Women’s Six Nations, English soccer’s Women’s Super League, sailing's SailGP, motor racing’s Formula 1 and W Series and American football’s NFL.
Whisper’s production team will be led by Rob Williams, who has produced multiple International Cricket Council tournaments including last year’s World Cup final at Lord’s (pictured). The team also includes Mark Cole and Patel, who were involved in the BBC’s cricket coverage from 1999 to 2009.
They will sit alongside production executive Sarah Warnock, who has previously worked on major ICC events, and senior production executive Anne Somerset. Digital and multi-platform strategy will be managed by Chris Hurst, who also previously worked for the ICC.
Sunil Patel, Whisper’s chief executive, said: “The sport seems to enjoying a resurgence after England’s dramatic victory in last year’s Cricket World Cup and it’s great seeing the positive influence that sport can generate.
“There are many cricket fans within Whisper and the team is full of ideas of how we can work on our new cricket projects to showcase the sport and attract new audiences.”
Jimmy Lee, ECB senior creative manager, added: “We are really excited to be partnering with Whisper, who are bringing great energy and innovation to the industry at this time.
“I can’t wait to deliver the forthcoming international cricket season with Sunil, Mark and the rest of the team, who share our ambition to raise the game for sports storytelling in the digital space.”
Meanwhile, Blitz Advertising, the rights-holder of the Pakistan Super League T20 tournament, has taken legal action against the Pakistan Cricket Board over rights payments for the suspended 2020 season.
Blitz Advertising and Techfront, a UAE-based sports technology and management company, hold the domestic broadcasting rights of the PSL in a deal worth $36 million, which runs from 2019 to 2021.
The PCB recently activated an insurance guarantee from Blitz of $6 million, which was held as security for the contract, after Blitz held back a payment for the 2020 PSL season believing it was tied to the completion of the season.
Now, Blitz has announced it has taken out a stay order in the civil courts in Lahore.
It said: “Our dispute with the PCB is on issue of completion of PSL 2020 tournament. PCB has announced/declared since 17 March that four matches including semi-finals shall be held later in year 2020 and is postponed until then.
“According to our agreements with PCB, it is stated clearly – we are to pay the rights fees only after the last match of the PSL 2020 tournament is held and declared. Since the last match of the PSL 2020 has not been held and/or declared by PCB therefore the rights fee is not due and payable under the agreement.
“Blitz was constrained to seek legal remedy through courts, refraining encashment of guarantee since the payment was not due until the last match of PSL 2020 was declared by PBC.
“Blitz in the last five years of its relationship with PCB has honoured all its obligations in accordance with the agreements. However, in this instance, Blitz, in view of PCB’s unjustified demand had no other option but to approach courts for relief.”
The 2020 PSL season was halted just before the knockout stages due to the coronavirus pandemic. The PCB has been looking to resume the season, with November floated as a possible window for completion.