BT Sport keen to renew Premiership rights deal
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.