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RFL bolsters OTT offering following Sky talks

The Rugby Football League has enhanced the schedule of live games available via its streaming platform, Our League, following talks with domestic rights-holder, pay-television broadcaster Sky.

The free-to-view ‘Our League’ website and app showcases games outside the top-tier Super League competition, and the RFL has unveiled an expanded schedule for the first half of the 2020 season.

Clubs from the second-tier Championship and third-tier League 1 will help fund the streaming by contributing some of their central commercial revenues.

The second-tier Championship opening round fixture between Toulouse Olympique and York City Knights at Stade Ernest Wallon on February 1 will be the first of 15 Championship fixtures available live to Our League members in the first five months of the season.

Five League 1 fixtures have also been selected for live coverage. These include London Skolars’ home match against North Wales Crusaders on February 29 as the first part of a double-header at Allianz Park, the home of rugby union side Saracens. The double-header will also includes Toronto Wolfpack’s home Super League fixture against St Helens.

The Skolars game will kick off at 3pm GMT, and for the majority of weekends through the season Our League will cover two live fixtures, with the Sunday evening Championship matches complemented by Sunday lunchtime or afternoon games from either the Championship, League 1, the Women’s Super League, the Challenge Cups or the 1895 Cup.

Mark Foster, the RFL’s chief commercial officer, said: “We’ve worked hard through the autumn, especially with our broadcast partners Sky Sports and the Championship and League 1 clubs, to find the best way to build on the progress we made with Our League last season.

“Playing the big (Championship) games on a Sunday evening, we avoid clashes with Sky Sports’ extensive coverage of the Betfred Super League. We think it’s the perfect time for us to show the quality of the Betfred Championship to a wider audience, and we’re grateful to our broadcast partners and to the Championship and League 1 clubs, who will be contributing a small percentage of their central distribution for the 2020 season to allow all this to happen.”

Sky is currently coming towards the end of a five-year deal, from 2017 to 2021, signed with the RFL back in February 2014.