This deal with ESPN secures a partnership with one of the world's leading broadcasters, who become yet another blue chip supporter of club rugby in England
(PRWEB) December 19, 2009
Premier Rugby and ESPN have agreed a three-year contract for exclusive live rights to 43 matches per season from the Guinness Premiership, beginning next season and running through to the 2012-2013 season.
The deal, that only covers the United Kingdom and Ireland, includes exclusive live coverage of the Guinness Premiership Final and one of the two semi-final matches. The agreement also provides highlight rights for use on ESPN digital media such as ESPNscrum.com. Sky Sports will show the other semi-final as part of its package of 26 live games, more than doubling the number of televised Premiership matches from this season's 33.
"This deal with ESPN secures a partnership with one of the world's leading broadcasters, who become yet another blue chip supporter of club rugby in England," Jon Varney, Commercial Director of Premier Rugby, said.
"Starting next season, our new television deals mean we have doubled the number of live televised Premiership matches, which will further raise the profile of the sport in the UK and overseas and will allow our clubs and sponsors to derive even greater exposure and value. It also means supporters have more chance to see their team on live television. ESPN are renowned for their innovation and we are all genuinely excited about the opportunity of working with them to drive value in both our businesses."
ESPN have effectively taken over the broadcasting arrangement Premier Rugby struck with Setanta before the Irish pay-tv channel folded in the summer. The original joint agreement with Setanta and Sky Sports, announced last December, boosted the Premiership's domestic and international rights income to £54million. When Setanta folded, Premier Rugby were understood to be faced with the prospect of losing around £7million a season.
Jeroen Oerlemans, Vice President, TV Channels Europe, Middle East and Africa said: "The Guinness Premiership is among the very best UK sports competitions, with a passionate fan base and top quality competition. We're thrilled to add it to our programming schedule and know that it will deliver great value for fans, advertisers and our partners."
Premier Rugby opened negotiations with ESPN soon after the Disney-backed channel stepped into the British market to plug the gap left by Setanta's demise. ESPN were initially awarded Setanta's forfeited Barclays Premier League football rights and last week they agreed a four-year deal to broadcast the FA Cup.
The agreement adds to ESPN's coverage of rugby in the UK, where it also delivers live coverage of French Top 14 Orange Rugby.