BT steals Premiership rugby rights from Sky, ESPN

BT steals Premiership rugby rights from Sky, ESPN
© PA Photos
BT signs a new four-year deal to become the exclusive UK broadcaster of Aviva Premiership rugby.

BT has clinched a new four-year deal to become the exclusive UK broadcaster of Aviva Premiership rugby.

The telecoms operator has poached the rights - currently shared jointly between Sky and ESPN - in a contract worth £152m.

The deal kicks in from 2013-14 and will allow BT to screen up to 69 live Premiership games per season, plus the entire Sevens series. BT will also have rights to European matches involving Premiership clubs for three years from 2014-15.

The news represents another significant blow to ESPN, who lost the rights to Premier League football to BT earlier this year.

BT is planning to launch a new sports channel next summer to house its Premier League coverage - 38 live games per season - plus the newly-acquired rugby offering. The company will be seeking to further add to its lineup in the coming months.

"BT is serious about sport and this deal means we will be offering the very best rugby action alongside some of the most thrilling football matches from the Premier League," said Marc Watson, CEO of BT Vision. "That is a winning combination and one that will appeal to fans of both sports."

Mark McCafferty, chief exec of Premiership Rugby, described the agreement as "game-changing" for the club game in the UK.

"BT is a company at the cutting edge of technology and that is one of the reasons it makes them such an exciting broadcast partner for Premiership Rugby," he added.

"We will develop a broad partnership. As well as showing the live games, BT will assist us in further upgrading the technical infrastructure of our clubs' stadia and by building community programmes with us."

While losing the rights to Premier League and rugby, ESPN has instead begun to focus on its European football offering. In recent months the American-owned broadcaster has renewed deals for the German Bundesliga, Italy's Serie A and the SPL, as well as picking up the rights to France's Ligue 1.

You May Like
Recomended from Sports Mole



LIVE SCORES VIDEPRINTER
expand