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European Rugby sold to BT Sports

BT Sports are to have exclusive rights to the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup in Britain and Ireland, having secured the rights to broadcast all of the tournaments’ matches live.

The coverage will begin from the 2018/19 season. BT Sport will all of the European Club Rugby matches until the 21/22 season. BT will air up to 134 matches over nine weekends will be shown live on BT Sport.

This continues BT's capturing of sport from rival pay TV broadcaster Sky Sports. BT Sports currently broadcast live Aviva Premiership Rugby, top flight English rugby and extended highlights rights for all 135 matches in the competition. BT Sport currently share the rights with Sky Sports, with the Sky Sport deal coming to an end in the 18/17 season.

BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight programming will continue to provide highlights of Aviva Premiership Rugby, European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

EPCR, who sell the rights, has reserved the rights for free-to-air coverage in Britain and Ireland, allowing EPCR to meet its key objective of taking its matches to a larger audience and will take those rights to market at a later date.

In Ireland all 3 broadcasters RTÉ, TV3 and TG4 will be looking at the free to air rights. RTÉ having lost its 6 nations coverage to TV3 from 2018, which means the public broadcaster maybe interested in replacing some of the rugby coveage it has lost to its main rival. TV3 may want to futher expand its coverage of sport and may be keen to take the rights. While, since 2011 Irish Language broadcaster TG4 has air deferred and highlights coverage of both tournaments.

It is expected that ITV may take the British rights.

Andy Haworth, BT’s managing director of content and strategy, said: “BT Sport is now the home of elite European rugby, as well as the home of Aviva Premiership Rugby. We’re proud to have won all of the live rights for this fantastic competition. We’re extremely passionate about our rugby coverage and will continue to work hard to grow the profile of the sport.”

Vincent Gaillard, CEO EPCR, said “We are delighted to move to a single pay-TV platform for European club rugby with a premium broadcaster in BT Sport, who share our commitment to the promotion of our competitions. We look forward to further developing that relationship to continually create outstanding rugby experiences for fans across the United Kingdom and Ireland.”