Rugby Union

Features

The Irish Rugby Football Union roughly doubled the value of domestic rights to Ireland autumn internationals in a deal with public-service broadcaster RTÉ, and is still to sell rights in the UK.

Australian public-service broadcaster SBS has renewed its deal for non-exclusive rights to the national rugby union team’s ongoing matches for roughly the same annual fee.

Rugby union experts expect the value of international media rights to Europe’s club competitions to decline in any new deal, with a tender covering a new cycle issued this week.

The Six Nations last week secured a long-term deal with media company NBCUniversal in the US, but is understood to have suffered a 40-per-cent fall in the value of its rights in Italy.

The Pro14 cross-border rugby union league secured the medium-term future of its new format with the agreement of a lucrative deal across sub-Saharan Africa earlier this month.

The expansion of the cross-border Pro12 rugby union competition, following the addition of two South African teams this week, has been driven by three factors: the desire to improve the competitiveness of the league, the aim of bringing its media-rights revenues closer into line with its rivals, and the availability of the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings.

European Professional Club Rugby increased the value of its media rights in France by about 50 per cent late last month from deals with beIN Sports and France Télévisions.

The Six Nations has increased the value of its international media rights by at least 20 per cent in a renewal with Pitch International, while choosing to retain rights in the US and Canada.
USA

Media group NBCUniversal extended its commitment to rugby union in the US this week, buying World Rugby rights for a significantly higher guaranteed fee.

Six Nations international media rights are currently on the market with the incumbent, Pitch International, facing competition from rival agency IMG.

Strong competition is expected between France’s main pay-television broadcasters for Uefa Champions League, Formula One and European rugby rights, with all three properties currently on the market.

UK commercial broadcaster ITV has bought rights to the 2019 and 2023 Rugby World Cups, while deals have also been struck in Japan and sub-Saharan Africa, TV Sports Markets understands.

Scottish Rugby earned an increase of more than 70 per cent by selling international rights to its autumn Test matches directly to the Pitch International agency, without offering them to the market.

Increasing the number of live Premiership Rugby matches broadcast had an “immediate and tangible” impact on its international distribution and income, according to the league’s commercial director Dominic Hayes.

The English Premiership has at least quadrupled in value and significantly increased its coverage in sub-Saharan Africa, taking advantage of competition between pay-television broadcasters

Strong competition drove up the value of rights to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Ireland this week, despite a much worse time zone than in 2015.

Interview with Dominic Hayes, Premiership Rugby’s commercial director, about new deals in sub-Saharan Africa for the top-tier rugby union league

France Télévisions last month retained its hold on Six Nations and national team test rugby in long-term deals, increasing its fees for both by about 25 per cent.

John Manning, research analyst for SportBusiness Intelligence, examines television audiences for this year’s Six Nations Championship