BBC To Lose More Rugby Rights. . . . This Time For Wales

By Steve Evans

Wales’ autumn Tests are set to be televised on Sky from 2019 in another huge blow for BBC Wales.

In a further disappointment for the corporation, they have also missed out on the TV rights for the Wales tour game against South Africa on June 2.

That fixture is poised to be screened by Channel 4, with both setbacks following confirmation that Premier Sports have been awarded the live rights for the Guinness Pro14 in a three-year deal to start next season.

BBC Wales announced at the start of March that they had failed to agree a new deal with Pro14 negotiators, who were looking for a significant increase on their current £11m per year deal from various packages of domestic rights.

The BBC had hoped to retain a Scrum V highlights package for that tournament, which may have softened the blow slightly, but that now appears unlikely.

It means that after the current contract between the BBC and the Welsh Rugby Union ends this November, the only rugby left in the broadcaster’s possession will be rights to the Six Nations, which they currently share with ITV.

But those, too, are in danger. Having decided to switch their focus from club rugby to the international game, Sky are planning an aggressive bid for the tournament when the Six Nations’ current deal ends in 2021.

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Sky already have the rights to England and Ireland’s November games and Wales will add to that mix.

But the loss of Wales’ autumn Tests – negotiations are currently being finalised – will further undermine the credibility of BBC Wales’ sporting output which has diminished relentlessly over recent years.

Although the autumn rights are owned by BBC network, the live production involved a large number of BBC Wales staff based in Cardiff. It also provided content for highlights programming in the period immediately following European rugby, the rights for which have been jointly held by Sky and BT in recent years but which will belong solely to BT from next season.

BBC Wales are considering whether to bid for rights to show Principality Premiership matches, but with changes in the pipeline for that competition and the emergence of a regional U23 competition, those plans are uncertain.

In the Pro14, Premier Sports will add a second channel, allowing them to broadcast every game from the competition all in high definition.

Premier Sports, whose sister channel Free Sports will carry a weekly free game, costs £9.99 a month, or there is an annual subscription at £99.

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They have said the Pro14 will be considered a flagship product and they will establish a highlights package and magazine show, as well as longer pre- and post-match analysis.

While still dwarfed by the mega-deals on offer in France to the Top 14, it is believed that the deal will see PRO14 clubs receive a significant cash boost with the teams now to bank more than £2m per season.

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi said: “The partnership with Premier Sports will be a watershed moment for the Guinness PRO14, our clubs and their supporters.

“By better resourcing our clubs through increased central revenue, we will ensure sustainability so they can further invest from the ground up to drive success on and off the pitch so they can retain supporters and attract new fans of all ages.”


2 thoughts on “BBC To Lose More Rugby Rights. . . . This Time For Wales

  1. Bbc like to waste our money on people like gary liniker etc but dont want to bid for sport. Moter racing golf etc all go to highest. Why pay the license

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