Channel 5 To Be First Terrestrial Broadcaster To Carry Live Top-Flight English Rugby
Channel 5 will become the first terrestrial broadcaster to show a top-flight English league match by televising Premiership Rugby side Harlequins’ match against Northampton Saints at Twickenham on Dec. 30, according to Gavin Mairs of the London TELEGRAPH. Channel 5 signed a four-year deal, understood to be worth more than £1M ($1.3M), to show five live games per season. A Premiership spokesperson said, "This is a landmark day in the history of Premiership Rugby, taking the game to new audiences and showcasing the league at one of the most famous stadiums in the world." While the BBC used to broadcast live matches in the Heineken Cup before the tournament organizers sold the rights to Sky Sports in '03, "this will be the first time that top-flight English league matches have been shown live on terrestrial television." Under the new contract, agreed after a competitive bidding process, Channel 5 will "simulcast" a total of five live games with BT Sport, which will continue to broadcast up to 80 live Premiership games per season. The new deal "does not impact on the existing contract with BT Sport," which is understood to be "happy to share" some of the broadcasting of live games to increase the profile of the tournament (TELEGRAPH, 12/5).