USA’s Cricket World Cup Team Just Upset Pakistan, but You Couldn’t Stream It on ESPN

After the sports network lost broadcast rights to the ICC World Cup, U.S. viewers must turn to Fubo or Sling to watch the underdog team

DALLAS, TEXAS – JUNE 06: Team USA celebrate victory during the ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup West Indies & USA 2024 match between USA and Pakistan at Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium on June 06, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Matt Roberts-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

The United States cricket team just pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport over Pakistan at the ICC T20 World Cup, and they have a match against India next week. But you won’t be able to stream it on ESPN.

For years, the Disney-owned sports network has streamed the ICC World Cup on ESPN+ as part of a multiyear broadcast rights agreement between the International Cricket Council and Star Sports, the sports division of Disney India. As part of that agreement, Star Sports had the right to make distribution deals with other global sports networks to broadcast ICC events from 2015 to 2023, so ESPN handling the World Cup in the U.S. was a natural fit.

But last year, the ICC decided to unbundle its broadcast rights and accept bids on a territory-by-territory basis. While ESPN retained the broadcast rights to air ICC events in the Caribbean — where several countries are hosting matches in this year’s T20 World Cup — and Disney Star won the rights in India with a $3 billion bid, cricket-specific streaming site Willow TV nabbed the World Cup rights in the U.S. from 2024 to 2027.

It makes sense that Disney held on to those territories. While cricket maintains a passionate fanbase in the U.S., particularly in Indian and Pakistani immigrant communities, it’s a niche in the overall sports landscape, particularly considering that many of the top professional leagues and international tournaments in cricket play ball during sleeping hours in the States. The recent host countries of the T20 World Cup include Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bangladesh.

But this year, the U.S. was named as a co-host of the T20 World Cup alongside multiple Caribbean countries such as Barbados and St. Lucia. Three cricket grounds in Dallas, Miami and New York were chosen as host sites, meaning that the U.S. national cricket team, which had never competed in this tournament, would automatically qualify as a host team.

Captained by Indian-born cricket Monank Patel, who emigrated to New Jersey in 2016, the U.S. opened the tournament with a seven-wicket victory over Canada. But Pakistan would be a different beast, having reached the final of the last T20 World Cup in 2022.

The match went to a Super Over — the T20 cricket equivalent of overtime — but the Yanks took advantage of several fielding and bowling errors by Pakistan to win by a score of 18-13, securing the biggest win in the history of American cricket and putting the team in control of its own destiny as it seeks to advance out of the tournament’s group stage.

Pakistan, meanwhile, faces a must-win matchup against their archrivals, India, in New York this Sunday. The U.S. will also face India on June 12, followed by their final group stage match against Ireland on June 14.

So if you want to follow these American underdogs — and perhaps learn how cricket is played — how do you watch if it’s not on ESPN? The entire ICC T20 World Cup is being streamed on Willow TV for $10/month and the cricket network can also be streamed on Fubo and Sling.

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