Some of Ulster's matches had been broadcast by BBC Two NI. Kevin Barnes/INPHO
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BBC 'disappointed' to lose Pro14 live broadcast rights

The screening of Ulster matches on BBC Two Northern Ireland will subsequently end.

THE BBC HAS voiced its disappointment after losing the rights to broadcast live Pro14 matches.

It’s looking like they’ll go to subscription channel Premier Sports, which means that regular terrestrial television coverage will end next season.

The Pro14 is yet to confirm the new deal, but BBC Scotland stated:

“BBC Northern Ireland, BBC Scotland, BBC Wales, BBC Alba and S4C put together a competitive joint bid. We are therefore disappointed our bid has been rejected.”

BBC Two Northern Ireland had broadcast some of Ulster’s games prior to now, while Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors’ fixtures had been screened on both BBC Alba and BBC Two Scotland.

Welsh sides often had their matches screened on BBC Two Wales, and that will end now. But negotiations over Welsh language rights will continue with the possibility of some showings on S4C.

The BBC have stated that it hopes to be able to continue to offer highlights, with BBC Wales saying:

“We’re proud of our record of covering live Pro14 rugby across television, radio and online and we offered a significantly increased financial bid in order to safeguard these rights on a free-to-air basis for hundreds of thousands of viewers in Wales — and across the UK.

“We know there will be a real disappointment at this outcome among hundreds of thousands of rugby fans who have enjoyed live free-to-air coverage on the BBC over many years.”

Pay-TV company Premier Sports meanwhile, was set up by Irish businessman and joint CEO of Setanta Sports, Michael O’Rourke, in 2009. It’s operated by the Luxembourg-registered Premier Media, and is available on Sky and Virgin Media platforms, as well as via their website.

The Pro14 is set to have a new Irish television broadcaster next season though with eir sport close to finalising a deal with the tournament organisers, as reported by The42 last month.

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