LONDON 12th July 2010 – ESPN today announced its initial Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures, starting with exclusive live coverage on ESPN and ESPN HD of the season-opening double header at Twickenham.
ESPN’s first live Aviva Premiership Rugby televised match of the season, at 2.00pm on Saturday 4th September, features a clash between the runners-up of the last two Premiership Finals, Saracens and London Irish. Directly after, at 4.30pm, ESPN will broadcast the clash between Harlequins and London Wasps, winners of the Premiership in four of the past eight seasons.
Announcing the selection of live matches, Jeroen Oerlemans, Vice President TV Channels, ESPN, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “We are thrilled to be the lead broadcaster of Aviva Premiership Rugby over the next three seasons. The Twickenham double-header will be a fantastic start to our Aviva Premiership Rugby coverage. Rugby fans can watch some of the best games in the early weeks of the season on ESPN. ESPN is committed to capturing the competitive atmosphere and fans of English club rugby, while being true to guiding principles of the sport.”
Over the first 13 rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby, ESPN’s handpicked selection of exclusively live matches includes Leicester Tigers, current Premiership champions, and Northampton Saints, runners-up in last season’s regular Premiership season. ESPN will also broadcast live and exclusively, on Sunday 3rd October, the clash between Saracens and Leicester Tigers in a repeat of last season’s Premiership Final, which Leicester won with a Dan Hipkiss try minutes before the final whistle.
ESPN’s coverage will be led by analyst Austin Healey, the former England international and Leicester Tigers back and chief commentator Nick Mullins, who has covered the last four Rugby World Cups and RBS Six Nations tournaments since 2001. Joining Mullins in the commentary box will be Ben Kay, the six-time Rugby Premiership Championship winner and Rugby World Cup winning former England International. ESPN will announce further additions to its on-screen line-up in coming weeks.
In December 2009, ESPN and Premiership Rugby agreed a multi-year deal for exclusive live rights to 43 matches per season from Premiership Rugby, beginning next season and running through to the 2012-2013 season. ESPN plans to cover all of its 43 matches each season on-site at the grounds themselves. From a custom-built set, all pre and post-match discussion and analysis will come live from the game, capturing the environment and adding a new dimension to broadcast coverage of the Premiership Rugby.
ESPN’s multiplatform coverage of Aviva Premiership Rugby also includes online coverage at ESPNScrum.com. In addition to live and exclusive TV coverage, fans can get news, analysis and video of Aviva Premiership Rugby.
Aviva Premiership Rugby, part of ESPN’s Summer Festival of Sport, adds to ESPN’s established heritage of rugby coverage in the UK and worldwide. In the UK, ESPN delivers live coverage of French Top 14 Orange rugby. ESPN also has an agreement to show archive matches and footage from each of the six Rugby World Cup tournaments to date on ESPN Classic in the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Aviva Premiership Rugby builds on ESPN’s established offering of top domestic and international sports from around the world, including Barclays Premier League, Clydesdale Bank Premier League Germany’s Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and the UEFA Europa League. Next season, ESPN will further expand its line-up of top-quality, exclusive sports, broadcasting 25 FA Cup fixtures live and exclusively throughout the 2010/11 season.
Early-season ESPN telecasts of Aviva Premiership Rugby matches include:
Saturday 4th London Irish v Saracens 2.00pm
Saturday 4th London Wasps v Harlequins 4.30pm
Saturday 11th Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs 5.30pm
Sunday 12th Saracens v Sale Sharks 2.15pm
Friday 17th Northampton Saints v Bath Rugby 7.45pm
Sunday 19th London Irish v Gloucester Rugby 2.15pm
Saturday 25th Gloucester Rugby v London Wasps 2.30pm
Sunday 26th Saracens v Northampton Saints 3.00pm
Sunday 3rd Saracens v Leicester Tigers 4.30pm
Friday 22nd Leeds Carnegie v Sale Sharks 7.45pm
Saturday 23 Leicester Tigers v Bath Rugby 2.30pm
Saturday 30th Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons 2.30pm
Sunday 31st Harlequins v Bath Rugby 2.30pm