private equity

Six Nations agree to unify media rights ahead of expected CVC investment

There are fears that the championship won’t be screened live on terrestrial TV in the future.

THE SIX NATIONS has confirmed that its member unions have agreed to unify their media rights ahead of the expected investment into the competition by private equity company CVC.

CVC is set to buy a 15% share in the Six Nations for around £300 million.

With the Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, French, and Italian unions agreeing to unify their media rights for all November Tests, the men’s Six Nations, women’s Six Nations, and the U20 Six Nations, CVC is in line to become a major influence on international rugby.

rory-best-lifts-the-trophy Ireland won the Six Nations in 2018. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

CVC, which was previously heavily involved in Formula One, has already bought a 27% stake in the English Premiership, while the private equity firm is also widely believed to have agreed in principle to take over 27% of the Pro14.

The Six Nations will hope that any involvement for CVC will drive commercial side of the championship to the next level.

However, the major concern for supporters is that Test rugby may not be screened on free-to-air TV in the future.

The Six Nations is currently shown live on terrestrial TV stations such as RTÉ in Ireland, but there are fears that it may disappear onto subscription-based services in years to come.

Indeed, the Guardian reported this week that the Six Nations’ deal to sell the 15% stake to CVC has been held up by the home unions insisting that the championship will remain live on free-to-air TV.

Today’s announcement from the Six Nations does appear to bring the deal with CVC a step closer.

“By working closely together and ensuring a combined approach to our overall operations and harmonising of our media rights, the Six Nations will be able to accelerate the development of the game,” said Six Nations CEO, Ben Morel.

“In doing so, we will remain true to our heritage while looking to attract and reach new audiences. This has been one of our key strategic priorities for some time and we are very pleased to make today’s announcement.”

The Six Nations statement reads:

“The Six Nations Council has today announced a significant strategic agreement to further its sporting and commercial collaboration alongside its existing co-ordinated approach to the Men’s Guinness Six Nations Championship,” reads the statement.

“From next season, all six Unions and Federations will be unifying the operations and media rights of the Women’s Six Nations, the U20 Six Nations, respective Autumn Internationals and other international tests alongside the Men’s Guinness Six Nations.

“Formal engagements for media rights in the UK and Italy will commence shortly with other engagements involving other territories to follow in due course.”

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