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BT Sport secures exclusive rights to European club rugby

Pay-television broadcaster BT Sport has secured exclusive rights in the UK and Ireland to European club rugby union’s Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions after agreeing a fresh four-season contract.

The deal was first announced in TV Sports Markets 21:10. Rights in the current cycle, from 2014-15 to 2017-18, are held jointly by BT and pay-television rival Sky but will move exclusively to BT Sport from the 2018-19 campaign.

The new deal with European Professional Club Rugby will run until at least 2021-22. Up to 134 matches over nine weekends will be broadcast in both competitions and will be shown live on BT Sport.

Since launching in 2013, BT Sport has broadcast live Premiership Rugby and is currently broadcasting up to 69 matches per season of top-flight English rugby and extended highlights rights for all 135 matches in the competition.

Since 2014, BT Sport has also shown at least 37 games in both European elite competitions per season with English club Saracens winning the Champions Cup for the past two years.

BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight programme will also continue to complement the live Premiership Rugby, Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, recapping on all the action.

Vincent Gaillard, chief executive of 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.”

EPCR added that it has also reserved the rights for free-to-air coverage in the UK and Ireland, and will take those rights to market at a later date.