Russian Premier League to receive free-to-air Match TV coverage on return

Russian sports broadcaster Match TV will make its coverage of the Russian Premier League free-to-air for the remainder of the season.

The league will restart on June 19, following suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with only 10 per cent of each stadium capacity allowed to be filled by fans.

The Gazprom-owned broadcaster will show the remaining matches from the 2019-20 season on its free-to-air Match TV channel, as well as a simulcast on the Match TV premium subscription channels.

Match Prime will offer an enhanced programme which will include player and manager interviews and match punditry.

Match TV holds domestic Russian Premier League rights in a four-season deal, from 2018-19 to 2021-22. It has said that the free-to-air coverage will not affect the business model of that contract.

Leagues across Europe that are restating or have restarted have been working with domestic broadcasters in a bid to facilitate more free-to-air coverage due to fans being unable to attend live.

Most notably in the UK, the Premier League has offered out all remaining unsold matches to existing domestic broadcasters, including four matches to the public-service broadcaster BBC. Pay-television broadcaster Sky will show 25 of its matches on its free-to-air digital terrestrial channel PickTV, and Amazon has said that viewers will not have to sign up to its Prime service to view its four matches.

In Germany, Sky Deutschland has opened up its ‘Konferenz’ coverage – the broadcasting of live action from various simultaneous matches in a single broadcast – of Bundesliga and second-tier 2. Bundesliga matches available on a free-to-view basis.

Italy’s Sports Minister, Vincenzo Spadafora, is also pushing for similar coverage from the top-tier Serie A on pay-television broadcaster Sky Italia.