Fears that BT Sport had lost the exclusive live TV rights to broadcast the Gallagher Premiership have been allayed after hands were shaken on Friday on a new £110million deal that will see the UK broadcaster cover the English league through to the end of the 2023/24 season.
The three-season extension is in marked changed to concerns that emerged earlier this week where it was reported that BT Sport’s rugby pundits had even been informed they could potentially lose the rights to the tournament the company had broadcast exclusively since the 2013/14 season.
The Times report on Wednesday read: “BT Sport’s star rugby pundits have been warned by the broadcaster that it may lose the rights to the Gallagher Premiership next season after having a ‘final offer’ rejected. Premiership Rugby Ltd (PRL) has turned down an offer from BT Sport of a four-year extension to its existing deal for about the same £40m-a-year fee.
“The rejection has led BT to inform its punditry team — which includes the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio, Brian O’Driscoll, Austin Healey and Ugo Monye — that its coverage of the English top-flight is in danger of coming to an end after six years. Industry sources say that BT believes the offer is already generous given the downward pressure on sports’ broadcasting rights even before the coronavirus pandemic.”
However, bridges have since been quickly built since that story emerged in midweek, Premiership Rugby trumpeting on Friday evening its successful conclusion to negotiations with BT Sport. Premiership boss Darren Childs said: “BT Sport have been incredibly supportive partners of Premiership Rugby since they showed their first live match in 2013.
England's top flight could have a new TV home in 2021/2022https://t.co/8lOjOzbN9v
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“This year we have innovated together with match pass and in bringing all the season’s games to fans through a difficult period for live sports. We are pleased we have reached an agreement to extend our partnership through to 2024.”
Andy Haworth, BT Sport’s managing director, added: “Today’s announcement is great news for rugby fans as BT Sport remains the home of Gallagher Premiership Rugby in the UK. This has been an extremely difficult year for sport.
“This is a partnership that extends beyond the TV screen and we hope this agreement helps to give rugby clubs in the UK some certainty for the future in these difficult times. We will continue to play our part in bringing the best TV coverage of top-flight club rugby to our viewers whilst they are not able to attend live sport.”
The extended deal will see BT Sport subscribers continue to enjoy up to 80 live games (69 Gallagher Premiership Rugby and eleven in the Premiership Rugby Cup) in every Premiership Rugby season.
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