BBC and ITV secure World Cup rights extension

UK public-service broadcaster the BBC and commercial broadcaster ITV have agreed rights deals for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals with Fifa, football’s governing body.

The new contract, which comprises television, online and radio rights, continues a partnership between the BBC and ITV that dates back to the 1966 World Cup, which was hosted and won by England.

In April, Fifa opened an invitation to tender for media rights in the UK to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which will be held in Russia and Qatar respectively.

The 2022 finals will be the 15th consecutive World Cup that the two broadcasters have covered together. BBC director of sport Barbara Slater said: “It is fantastic news that the pinnacle event in world football will continue to be available free of charge for everyone in the UK.”

The BBC and ITV’s hold on the rights has been aided in the pay-television era due to the competition being listed on the UK’s ‘crown jewels’ list of sporting events reserved for coverage on free-to-air television.

The new deal has been struck ahead of the kick-off of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on Thursday. England is the only UK nation to have qualified for this summer’s tournament and has been drawn alongside Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D.