BT Sport could be set to lose the live TV broadcast rights to the Gallagher Premiership two years after CVC Capital Partners invested more than £200million when taking a 27 per cent stake in the tournament. 

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The landmark partnership was always going to seek to push the boundaries in an ambition to generate more revenue and it seems BT Sport could be a casualty following media reports that it has had its final bid to retain live TV broadcast rights from next season rebuffed. 

It was December 2018 when the alliance between the Premiership and CVC was hailed by the league’s then-chairman Ian Ritchie. “This is a landmark new partnership,” he said at the time. “It is positive news for the league, the clubs and the game. It takes the clubs to a new level and is the heralding of a new era.”

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However, despite playing a major role in ensuring the completion of the pandemic-hit 2019/20 season, BT Sport could now find itself left on the outside after the end of the current 2020/21 season.

So concerned are BT Sport with the current situation that they are believed to have informed its roster of high profile pundits that it could potentially lose the rights to the tournament they have broadcast exclusively since the 2013/14 season. 

The Times report 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. 

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“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.”

With BT Sport’s exclusive negotiating window now closed, Amazon Prime have been mentioned as a possible alternative following its arrival into live rugby broadcasting via the recent Autumn Nations Cup.

  • Watch the Gallagher Premiership on BT Sport. Click here to buy now

 

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