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TF1 retains Rugby World Cup rights

French commercial broadcaster TF1 has renewed an agreement for Rugby World Cup rights ahead of next year’s edition of the national team tournament in Japan.

The deal was first reported in TV Sports Markets 21:22. TF1 has been a partner of World Rugby since 1991 and has broadcast the World Cup six times.

Financial terms of the new agreement for the 2019 World Cup were not disclosed but French newspaper L'Équipe said the deal is worth close to €45m ($55.5m), which represents a decrease on the €50m TF1 paid for the 2015 tournament rights. L'Équipe said the lower value of the contract can be attributed to time difference issues during what will be the first World Cup in Asia.

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said: “This deal will generate significant momentum in France, not just in 2019, but beyond to France 2023, while delivering a significant financial outcome for the ongoing development of the sport.

“Securing deals with major free-to-air broadcasters who are passionate about sport is central to World Rugby’s mission to make rugby accessible in a global context. With each Rugby World Cup we are broadening the sport’s reach and appeal through a broadcast and digital strategy that is aimed at reaching, engaging and inspiring new audiences within existing and emerging rugby markets.”

L'Équipe said TF1 is likely to sign a sublicensing deal for the rights, as it did in 2015 with pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus.

TF1’s audience for the 2015 Rugby World Cup final in England averaged 8.8m, a 54 per cent audience share. Its coverage of the 2011 final involving France was watched by 17.8m, which represented an 87 per cent audience share.