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Only one Ulster game selected for free broadcast as Pro14 schedule announced

Ulster fans might not see much of Jacob Stockdale on TV this season.
Ulster fans might not see much of Jacob Stockdale on TV this season.

By Gareth Hanna

Armchair Ulster fans are going to have to stump up if they want to watch their team on TV this season.

Premier Sports ended BBC's long association with the Pro14 when they won the rights to broadcast league fixtures this season. They announced that they will show every single game of the 152-match campaign live across the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.

However, their subscription channels Premier 1 and Premier 2 costs £9.99 per month of £99 per year, with just one game per round of fixtures selected to be shown on their Free Sports channel.

That left Ulster fans waiting to see how many of their games would be selected but, as fixtures and TV details were published on the Ulster Rugby website, it seems just a single fixture has been chosen from the opening 17 rounds of the 21-round regular season. That is Ulster's home game against Benetton on Friday, January 25.

All but three of Ulster's opening 17 Pro14 fixtures will be shown on Eir Sport, which is only available in the Republic of Ireland.

So will I only see one Ulster Pro14 match unless I pay up?

Not quite. All is not lost. There are three caveats, as small a consolation as they may be to fans used to regular BBC live footage:

1. Ulster fans could see the 28 December tie in Connacht as it will be shown live on TG4.

2. Brush up on your Cymraeg. Ulster's opening game of the season will  be shown on free-to-air TV as Welsh language channel S4C will broadcast Scarlets' trip to Kingspan Stadium. That's part of a deal that sees S4C broadcast one game per round of fixtures.

3. Ulster fans who have Virgin TV will be able to watch Premier Sports free until the end of September.

You can see the full broadcast schedule for the Pro14 season here.

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