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Premiership Rugby extends BT Sport ties

Premiership Rugby, which organises English club rugby union’s top-tier Premiership, has agreed a four-year extension to its exclusive rights deal with UK pay-television broadcaster BT Sport.

BT Sport currently has a four-year deal, from 2013-14 to 2016-17, for domestic rights to Premiership matches.

Premiership Rugby and BT have now agreed terms on a four-year extension, taking in the 2017-18 to 2020-21 seasons. The new agreement covers broadcast rights for up to 80 live Premiership matches per season, up from the current maximum of 69.

The contract covers extended highlights rights to all 135 Premiership matches per season from 2015-16 along with live broadcast rights to matches from the entire Premiership Rugby 7s Series until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

Midweek review and preview programming is also included under the new deal, while as major commercial partners of Premiership Rugby, BT Sport will work with the organisation to develop a community rugby programme and continue to market top-flight English club rugby.

Financial terms of the new deal were not disclosed, but the Telegraph said that the new contract is worth “far in excess” of the initial £152m (€208.8m/$233.6m) deal signed in 2012. The UK newspaper added that Premiership Rugby elected to award the rights without opening a tender having forged a strong relationship with BT Sport.

Mark McCafferty, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, said: “BT Sport has been a fantastic partner for English club rugby so we are delighted that we have been able to extend our relationship with them for a further four years. This is the longest TV agreement in the history of Premiership Rugby.

“In the 18 months we have been on-air with them our live TV audiences have grown by 50 per cent so it is clear that the partnership is going from strength to strength. In almost two seasons of coverage broadcasting the Aviva Premiership, BT Sport has set new standards for the live broadcast of rugby. Their innovative style has received great acclaim and we look forward to developing the partnership over the next six seasons.”

Alongside English Premier League football, the Premiership stood as a flagship live rights acquisition for telecommunications company BT when it moved into the UK pay-television sports market in summer 2013.