BT Sport keen to re­new Pre­mier­ship rights deal

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Daniel Schofield

BT Sport has con­firmed it wants to re­tain the rights to broad­cast Pre­mier­ship Rugby, af­ter an­nounc­ing it will screen ev­ery league match played be­hind closed doors.

The Pre­mier­ship sea­son re­sumes a week to­day, when Sale travel to Har­lequins, with the league con­firm­ing the kick-off times for eight of the nine re­main­ing rounds. BT Sport’s cov­er­age of the Pre­mier­ship will be avail­able to sea­son tick­ethold­ers while they are not al­lowed into sta­di­ums. Four matches will also be broad­cast live on Chan­nel 5.

BT Sport’s £40 mil­lion-a-year deal comes to an end next sea­son. Former tele­vi­sion ex­ec­u­tive Darren

Childs was ap­pointed as Pre­mier­ship Rugby chief ex­ec­u­tive largely to ne­go­ti­ate a more lu­cra­tive rights pack­age, but be­cause of the pan­demic clubs are brac­ing them­selves for a sharp fall in value.

Sky Sports is un­der­stood to have cooled on the idea of a ded­i­cated rugby chan­nel, while in­ter­net gi­ants such as Ama­zon have shown lit­tle in­ter­est in bring­ing rugby to an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence. So it will be a huge relief that Si­mon Green, the head of BT Sport, con­firmed that the broad­caster in­tends to keep Pre­mier­ship Rugby – pro­vided the price is right.

“Pre­mier­ship Rugby is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant to us,” Green said. “It is one of our pil­lars and there­fore I would like to re­new those set of rights, but with ev­ery set of rights the busi­ness looks at the num­bers in­volved and what it is worth to us.”

Pre­mier­ship Rugby also con­firmed that the fi­nal for the 2020-21 sea­son would take place on June 26, hav­ing re­jected re­quests from the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions to pro­vide an ex­tra week of prepa­ra­tion. It raises the pos­si­bil­ity of English club rugby’s show­piece event be­ing over­shad­owed by the Lions’ warmup game against Ja­pan at Mur­ray­field, sched­uled for the same week­end.

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