BT Sport sign four-year deal to broadcast European Cup
BT Sport will be the sole broadcasters of the Champions Cup on pay-TV in the UK and Ireland from 2018/19 after a new four-year deal was announced yesterday.
Since Europe's top competition was rebranded in 2014/15, fans have been forced to shell out for two separate packages to see all their team's European games, with Sky Sports also holding rights.
The latter's long-term interest in the competition will end after this season's edition however, with some games also expected to be shown on free-to-air TV from 2018/19 after a similar system trialled in France produced a boost in revenue.
The EPCR's CEO Vincent Gaillard believes that having only one pay-TV broadcaster, who will also air the secondary competition the Challenge Cup, will "simplify the viewing experience" for fans, some of whom have been turned off since the demise of the Heineken Cup.
"The interest that we have seen through the tender process shows how the tournaments continue to go from strength-to-strength," he said.
"Having one premium pay-television broadcaster in BT Sport will simplify the viewing experience for those fans and coverage on free-to-air television will give greater exposure to our outstanding rugby experiences."
Andy Haworth, BT's managing director of content and strategy, added: "BT Sport is now the home of elite European rugby, as well as the home of Premiership Rugby.
"We're proud to have won the live rights for these fantastic competitions.
"We're extremely passionate about our rugby coverage and will continue to work hard to grow the profile of the sport."
As well as their final year of European rugby, next season is also the last of Sky's current deal with the Guinness PRO12 that was originally signed ahead of 2014/15.