IMG Media converts global rights to new European rugby competition

European Professional Club Rugby, the governing body of the new European club rugby union competitions, has awarded global television broadcast rights for the events to the IMG Media agency in a four-year deal commencing from the 2014-15 season.

The new partnership with IMG, which EPCR said will generate a “substantial increase” in revenue on previous agreements, covers the broadcast rights outside of the UK, Ireland and France, for the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup and the Challenge Cup Qualifying Tournament.

Broadcast rights for Italy will be part of the agreement from 2015-16.

IMG will market live and highlights rights across all platforms for the 67 Champions Cup games, plus the play-offs, 19 matches from the Challenge Cup and three games from the Challenge Cup Qualifying Tournament for emerging clubs/provinces.

EPCR Executive Committee member Bruce Craig said: “This new partnership with IMG comes quickly on the back of the conclusion of the UK TV rights contract with BT Sport and BSkyB. IMG share our ambition and vision for these tournaments, and we look forward to working with them to ensure European professional club rugby reaches its potential in both established and emerging markets.

“We are now heading into the October kick-off in a very strong commercial position and expect another significant announcement later this month when the competitive tender process to secure the broadcast rights for France is concluded.”

The two principal tournaments, which are the successors to the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup – will feature 38 professional clubs from the Six Nations countries – England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales – who qualify through their domestic leagues of the English Premiership, French Top 14 and Pro 12. Two emerging clubs/provinces will also secure places from the Qualifying Tournament.

Both competitions will kick-off in October and be played over nine weekends, culminating in the finals on the weekend of May 1-2, 2015.