Channel Seven has announced its first big-name signing as free-to-air broadcaster of cricket in Australia with David Barham, the man who oversaw the hugely popular coverage of the men's and women's Big Bash Leagues in recent years, named the network's new head of cricket.
Barham has been in charge of Network Ten's sports coverage since 2011 during which time the broadcaster drove record prime-time ratings growth for the KFC BBL and Rebel WBBL.
Under his stewardship, ratings for BBL matches routinely rose to more than one million viewers per match and the coverage, hosted by former Test greats Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, unashamedly took a lighter, more family-friendly approach.
Cricket Australia announced earlier this month that, after four decades of the Nine Network serving as the broadcaster of international cricket in Australia, they had reached a six-year agreement worth almost $1.2 billion with Seven and cable broadcaster Foxtel.
Under that deal, that begins later this year, Seven will televise all Test matches played on Australian soil as well as 43 of the 59 scheduled BBL fixtures, all women's international matches and 23 WBBL games with Foxtel to carry men's limited-overs internationals and the balance of the (W)BBL games.
Seven's commitment will also include presentations of Australian cricket's foremost men's and women's individual awards, the Allan Border and Belinda Clark Medals.
Barham, who also oversaw Ten's telecast of the Australian Formula One grand prix, today foreshadowed that the innovation and scope that was delivered by the BBL and WBBL broadcasts in recent seasons would be applied to elements of Seven's Test format.
"Cricket has been a huge part of my life over the past five years, so I'm thrilled to be joining Seven, the new free-to-air home of cricket," Barham said in a statement issued by Seven West Media.
"In my conversations with Tim (Worner, Seven West Media Chief Executive), it's very clear he and his team are 100 per cent committed to producing even bigger and better BBL coverage and completely re-energising the Tests, so I can't wait to get stuck in."
Worner and Seven's Head of Sport, Saul Shtein, both welcomed the appointment of Barham who during his time at Ten also increased the number of cameras at BBL/WBBL games and introduced boundary-side interviews with players to heighten fans' insights and experience.
"There is no-one better placed to lead our coverage than Dave, who has been instrumental in the phenomenal success of the BBL," Worner said today.
"I know Dave has been itching to have a crack at Test cricket for some time, and having heard some of his ideas, next summer can't come soon enough."
Shtein added: "I'm a huge fan of Dave's BBL innovative production which raised the bar for cricket coverage in Australia. I'm looking forward to welcoming him on board."
Speculation continues as to the make-up of commentary teams for both Seven and Foxtel with many callers utilised by both the Nine and Ten in recent years expected to put their names forward for roles with the new broadcasters.
However, no formal announcements have yet been made by either network for the coming summer and beyond.