United Rugby Championship to broadcast free-to-air in Ireland
June 16, 2021 12:15 pm Site Editor
The United Rugby Championship will be available on free-to-air broadcasters in Ireland for the next four years with RTÉ and TG4 agreeing to share rights to 52 of the 60 Irish fixtures every season.
The United Rugby Championship kicks off in September where four of South Africa’s elite teams will join the 12 existing Guinness PRO14 teams to form a world-class league. This agreement with RTÉ and TG4 (subject to contract) will open the door to greater audiences in the Republic of Ireland for Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster.
RTÉ has secured the rights for live TV, radio and online coverage of 26 games featuring the Irish provinces in the league, plus additional knockout matches. TG4’s Rugbaí Beo will continue to be the station’s flagship rugby programme and will broadcast 26 URC games live. The final will also be delivered free to air with RTÉ and TG4 broadcasting it live on alternate years.
TG4 will also have live rights to a further 16 non-Irish fixtures in addition to the 26 Irish games.
Additionally, the United Rugby Championship and RTÉ will team up to offer a domestic and international OTT (Over The Top) service called URC TV, details of which will be announced later in the summer.
The collaboration between the two national broadcasters in the Republic of Ireland presents great news for sports fans and the provinces. TG4 continue to build on their 20-year association with the league with RTÉ returning to the competition for the first time since 2014.
Martin Anayi, CEO of United Rugby Championship commented: “Free-to-air coverage is hugely attractive to all sports in terms of reaching the widest possible audience and in TG4 and RTÉ we have two partners who are really excited about launching the United Rugby Championship.
“Both TG4 and RTÉ have proven track records of delivering marquee international sporting events and they are both innovators in their own spaces. TG4 have added a new dimension to our games with their referee briefings from the dressing rooms and their mic’d up coaching interviews during warm-ups which bring fans behind the scenes.
“RTÉ have experienced big sporting occasions for decades and our decision to partner with them on our OTT player – URC TV – is evidence of a broadcaster that can adapt to market demands and provide a very creative offering for rights holders.
“We also cement the legacy of TG4’s association with us since the first days of the Celtic League and welcome back old friends at RTÉ to provide a very powerful offering to the widest audience in Ireland ahead of the first URC games in September.”
Director General of TG4 Alan Esslemont said: “TG4 is delighted to have agreed the broadcasting rights to this new and exciting rugby competition. We look forward to delivering world class rugby to Irish audiences over the next four seasons. Rugbaí Beo has become part of the essential fabric of the station’s sports offering, and as an independent public service broadcaster, we’re proud to continue our commitment to bringing all this action to the sports fans of Ireland, free-to-air on TG4.”
Dee Forbes, RTÉ Director General said: “We are really excited to be part of the new United Rugby Championship. RTÉ is delighted to partner with URC and TG4 to ensure that the new Championship and our provinces get maximum exposure and Irish audiences enjoy the action free-to-air. It’s a team effort from URC, RTÉ and TG4 and a great result for Irish rugby fans. We’re also delighted to collaborate with URC on the launch of an innovative new global OTT service to ensure fans enjoy the best URC action across the world.”
Please note: These agreements are subject to contract with long-form negotiations nearing completion.