Premiership Rugby Channel 5 Deal
Channel 5 and BT Sport have agreed a four-year deal, understood to be worth in the region of £1 million, to show five live Premiership Rugby games from next season as well as a highlights programme every Sunday night. This would be the first time that top-flight English league matches have been shown live on terrestrial television since 2003.
Similar to their agreement to ‘simulcast’ five Australian Big Bash League games, Channel 5 will simultaneously show five live games with BT Sport, who continue to broadcast up to 80 live Premiership games per season.
BT Sport’s investment and commitment has undeniably helped the sport with TV audiences’ increasing by 40% since it began broadcasting Premiership rugby in 2013. However, compared to a free-to-air platform, BT Sport’s audience pale could in significance. The pre-existing highlights show on ITV attracts more than 400,000 viewers each weekend and the BBC reached a peak audience of 9.3 million for the finale of 2015 6 Nations Championship.
The deal will be music to the ears of the clubs and RFU as it will provide the mass exposure of free-to-air TV to inspire people to play, without foregoing the money which comes from paid TV services to be invested back into the game.
At this stage, this partnership seems to be a win-win for all parties involved. Providing it is successful, it could well be the template for future deals to bring live sport back to the masses.