Sky and BT have reached an agreement in principle to share broadcasting rights of the new European Rugby Champions Cup.
The news brings to an end two years of dispute over the tournament and would see coverage of European Rugby Champions Cup matches coming to Sky Sports and BT Sport.
Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “This is a good day for rugby. The agreement offers clarity for European rugby and enables the clubs to plan for the future. With these new competitions, we’re delighted our viewers can look forward to even more top-class European coverage across our platforms.”
The European Rugby Champions Cup replaces the Heineken Cup, while the second-tier competition, European Rugby Challenge Cup replaces the Amlin Cup. A third tier cup, called the Qualifying Competition, will also be introduced.
Simon Green, director of BT Sport said: “It is fantastic news for rugby fans that we have reached a deal with Sky Sports. The game of rugby had to come first and both companies have recognised that by showing a high degree of maturity and flexibility. We are delighted with the deal that has been struck and are hugely excited about bringing live action from both tournaments to our TV customers.”
Around 70 live matches and ten pool matches will be shared between the broadcasters with both Sky and BT showing live matches of English clubs each round. Both will broadcast two quarter finals and one semi-final with the final being shown on both Sky Sports and BT Sport. The two broadcasters have signed a four-year agreement.
For the European Rugby Champions Cup, BT Sport would have first picks and additional matches involving teams from the Aviva Premiership, while Sky Sports would have first picks and additional matches featuring clubs from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France and Italy. The reverse would be the case for the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
BT Sport has secured exclusive broadcast rights to Aviva Premiership rugby for 2014-15 while Sky has scored exclusive rights to show the Women’s Rugby World Cup and the IRB Junior World Championship 2014 in New Zealand.