Next season’s Champions Cup will be available to a lot more people with the news that free-to-air rights have been granted to two different broadcasters in the UK and Ireland.
In the UK, Channel 4 has secured right to show the competition, while in Ireland, TV3, who had the rights in Ireland for the Six Nations, will also broadcast Europe’s top-tier club competition.
It was originally thought that each of the terrestrial broadcasters would only receive the opportunity to broadcast a game per round and maybe one knock-out fixture.
However, in addition to one fixture per round in the pool stages, both broadcasters will show one game in the quarter-finals, one game in the semi-finals and the final.
The deal begins in October 2018 and runs until the final in 2022 which is the same length of time that BT Sport have secured the overall rights to show the majority of the games.
Tournament organisers have been desperate to increase the viewership and appeal of the competition and opening it up to everyone in the UK and Ireland should definitely achieve this aim.
It’s also a huge relief to rugby supporters who are increasingly suffering from the increased cost of pay-per-view sports packages in order to get their rugby union fix.
Here is a statement with regards to TV3’s deal.
TV3 & European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) have announced a four year agreement, which will see TV3 broadcast Live ‘Champions Cup’ rugby on free-to-air television for the first time since 2006.
As part of this deal, TV3 will broadcast one live ‘Champions Cup’ match per week of the tournament from the beginning of next season (October 2018) until the Final in May 2022.
The agreement includes six group stage matches followed by one Quarter-Final, one Semi-Final and the Champions Cup Final.
A weekly highlights show featuring the Irish sides participating in the Champions Cup will also be broadcast every weekend of the tournament.