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BBC lose ground in 6 Nations broadcast deal to keep Sky at bay

The move would appear to strengthen RTÉ’s grip on rights for the annual rugby tournament.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THE BBC AND ITV have today struck a deal to broadcast rugby’s Six Nations Championship from 2016 until 2021.

Britain’s national broadcaster have, until now, held exclusive rights to the competition in England, Scotland and Wales.

However, today’s £50 (€69) million-per-year deal sees ITV take over rights for some of the most lucrative fixtures as they will broadcast the home games of England, Ireland and Italy with matches in Wales, Scotland and France the preserve of the BBC.

For viewers in Ireland, though it remains to be seen if UTV Ireland will be permitted to share ITV’s Six Nations content, the joining of British broadcasting forces would appear to strengthen the status quo of RTÉ holding exclusive rights in Ireland as a single-territory deal would be of little value to Sky Sports.

While BBC have agreed to end their dominance two years before their existing contract was due to end in 2018, RTÉ’s current Six Nations rights stand until the 2017 tournament.

However, while the value may have diminished to Sky, UPC’s recent acquisition of TV3 may well fuel their interest in expanding a rugby portfolio that already includes the World Cup.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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