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    BBC and ITV join forces to stop Sky winning Six Nations broadcast rights

    This is a discussion on BBC and ITV join forces to stop Sky winning Six Nations broadcast rights within the Sky Sports forums, part of the Sky TV Channels category; BBC and ITV join forces to stop Sky winning Six Nations broadcast rights | Sport | The Guardian Deal starts ...

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      BBC and ITV join forces to stop Sky winning Six Nations broadcast rights

      BBC and ITV join forces to stop Sky winning Six Nations broadcast rights | Sport | The Guardian

      • Deal starts in 2016 and keeps tournament on terrestrial television
      • Sky had been invited to bid for rights to Six Nations for first time


      The Six Nations Championship will remain on terrestrial television for at least another six years after, as the Guardian exclusively revealed on Tuesday, the BBC and ITV formed a partnership to thwart Sky, who had been invited to bid for the rights for the first time.

      The deal will be worth an extra £10m for the Six Nations, but one way the two companies were able to trump Sky was to start the agreement next season rather than in 2018 after the end of the current deal with the BBC, which added another £20m to the package.

      The two companies will share the matches evenly over the six years. ITV will screen all the home matches of England, Ireland and Italy while the BBC will televise games in Wales, Scotland and France. With countries playing five home matches over two years, two or three in one campaign, it was the only way of dividing the matches evenly but it means ITV could show England 21 times over the period compared to nine times on the BBC.

      The BBC realised at the outset of the negotiations, following the decision of the Six Nations committee to approach pay-television companies and publicly warn the corporation that it would need to pay substantially more to retain the broadcasting rights, that it would no longer be able to go it alone.

      An initial hope of the Six Nations was that the BBC and Sky would share the rights, allowing the unions to increase their income without shrinking audience reach. Sky’s stance throughout was that it was interested only in an exclusive deal: as the championship is a category B sporting event, it would have had to agree to highlights being shown on terrestrial television.

      The three Celtic unions hoped that BT, which has had bidding wars with Sky in recent years over football rights, would make an offer, but the relative newcomers to sports broadcasting did not get involved. It was then that the BBC, which faced losing a tournament it has long been associated with, approached ITV and the result was a partnership which may prove a watershed for terrestrial stations in their battle with pay-TV to secure sporting rights. By ending its current deal two years early, the BBC has saved some £30m.

      The extra £20m the Six Nations will receive over the next two years helped secure the deal and Sky, which like BT had committed billions of pounds to football, declined to raise its offer.

      “We are relieved and delighted that the Six Nations remains free to air,” said Rhodri Talfan Davies, the director of BBC Wales. “The tournament provides not just sporting moments for Wales but contributes to our heritage and culture and it was essential that it remained accessible to all, not just those with the means to pay a subscription fee. It made sense for us and ITV to start the deal next season and take it through six years. It gives us breathing space and what we have to look at now, especially in Wales, is whether the Six Nations should be given protected status.”

      ITV, which has broadcast the World Cup since 1991, is making its first foray into the Six Nations, attracted by high television ratings and an audience regarded as largely ABC. “We are delighted to be strengthening our ties with rugby union and becoming involved in a tournament that has a unique atmosphere,” said Niall Stone, ITV’s director of sport. The final match of this year’s tournament between England and France, the last of three matches on a day regarded as one of the most compelling in its history, had a peak audience of nearly 10 million.

      The Celtic unions had hoped for a bidding war between Sky and BT because, unlike France and England, they need income from the Six Nations to help fund the professional teams they run below international level. With French and English clubs becoming stronger financially, attention will now turn to the Guinness Pro12, which attracts only a fraction of the television revenue of its two rivals.

      “The Pro 12 has had an unsettled period, but the bar was set high last season and in Glasgow we had champions who showed that a team could be adventurous and clever and also winners,” said the Pro 12 chairman, Gerald Davies. “It is vital that we grow the competition and give it the credibility the leagues in England and France have, driving up revenues so that we can all keep our best players. We need to keep spreading the message that we have a terrific tournament.”


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      Re: BBC and ITV join forces to stop Sky winning Six Nations broadcast rights

      But sky never did bid I've heard on good authority in any round unless it had an exclusive deal, which was only a pre bid scenario.
      BT also never played any part of it.
      It also says 'ITV, which has broadcast the World Cup since 1991, is making its first foray into the Six Nations,'. Wrong, as ITV had highliaghts of Englands home games between 1998-2002 an also FrancevEngland then. Sky held live rights with ITV having highlights rights.
      Typical Guardian (who always seem to praise the BBC) getting things muddled.

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      Re: BBC and ITV join forces to stop Sky winning Six Nations broadcast rights

      I'm not sure where the facts for this article came from. Very often they are provided in a PR statement from the firm/s concerned.

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