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Sky adds Challenge Cup to rugby league coverage

UK pay-television broadcaster BSkyB acquired rights for the Challenge Cup rugby league knockout competition in a five-year deal, from 2012 to 2016, with the Rugby Football League, the sport’s governing body in England.

In the current rights cycle, from 2009 to 2011, public-service broadcaster the BBC had the exclusive live rights for the competition. In 2012, live coverage will be split across both broadcasters.

Sky will provide live coverage of matches from the fourth, fifth and quarter-final rounds of this year’s tournament. Sky and the RFL are still discussing what coverage the pay-television broadcaster will have in 2013 and beyond.

The BBC will also show live Challenge Cup games from the fourth round to the quarter-final, as well as matches from the semi-finals and the final in the 2012 to 2016 period under a deal announced earlier this year.

Sky already has live rights for the Super League, the RFL’s league competition, in 2012 to 2016.

“This arrangement will give the sport massive levels of exposure and allow more people than ever before to enjoy the drama we have come to expect from the Challenge Cup,” RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said. “Increasing numbers of people are now tuning in on a weekly basis to watch rugby league action on Sky Sports and I’m sure that trend will continue with the addition of the Challenge Cup.”