Multi-Year Deal Brings 43 Live Matches and Exclusive Coverage of Final to ESPN in UK
Premier Rugby and ESPN have reached an agreement in principle for exclusive live rights to 43 matches per season from the Guinness Premiership, beginning next season and running through to the 2012-2013 season, including exclusive live coverage of the Guinness Premiership Final and one of the two semi-final matches. The agreement also provides highlight rights for use on ESPN digital media such as ESPNScrum.com.
Jon Varney, Commercial Director of Premier Rugby said, “This deal with ESPN secures a partnership with one of the world’s leading broadcasters, who become yet another blue chip supporter of club rugby in England.
“Starting next season, our new television deals mean we have doubled the number of live televised Premiership matches, which will further raise the profile of the sport in the UK and overseas and will allow our clubs and sponsors to derive even greater exposure and value. It also means supporters have more chance to see their team on live television.
“ESPN are renowned for their innovation and we are all genuinely excited about the opportunity of working with them to drive value in both our businesses.”
Added Jeroen Oerlemans, Vice President, TV Channels Europe, Middle East and Africa said: “The Guinness Premiership is among the very best UK sports competitions, with a passionate fan base and top quality competition. We’re thrilled to add it to our programming schedule and know that it will deliver great value for fans, advertisers and our partners.”
The world’s most competitive rugby union competition, the Guinness Premiership is the top division for club competition in England. From its beginnings as the Allied Dunbar Premiership in 1998, the league has established itself as a top global rugby union league and evolved into its current format with relegation to and promotion from the second-tier Championship. It features the 12 leading clubs in the country. Its regular season runs from September to May and comprises 22 rounds of matches. The teams play each other on a home and away basis during the regular season with the top four sides qualifying for the semi-final. The top two sides are guaranteed home advantage in the last four with the final staged at Twickenham Stadium.
The agreement adds to ESPN’s coverage of rugby in the UK, where it also delivers live coverage of French Top 14 Orange Rugby. ESPN also recently announced 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. The content will be featured on the channel in the coming months and will continue in the run-up to Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand, and beyond.
The Guinness Premiership joins an ESPN programming lineup that is rich in top-quality, exclusive sports. Launched in August, ESPN features top live football from around the world (Barclays Premier League, FA Cup, Clydesdale Bank Premier League, UEFA Europa League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Liga, German Bundesliga, Dutch Eredivisie, Portuguese Liga, Russian Premier League and MLS) as well as UFC – Ultimate Fighting Championship, Top 14 Orange rugby, Australian Rules Football (AFL), NHL, NBA, Major League Baseball and more.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
About Guinness Premiership Rugby
Premier Rugby is the umbrella organisation created and owned by the top 12 professional rugby clubs in England. Premier Rugby is mandated to manage the clubs central rights, most notably their broadcast contracts and central sponsor programme and to run the league in which those teams play; The Guinness Premiership. Premier Rugby also manages the interests of its clubs in European competition and negotiates with other parties, most notably the Rugby Football Union, International Rugby Board and the Rugby Players’ Association, on agreements governing the playing and administration of the sport.
Based in Bristol, Conn., ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 50 multimedia sports assets. ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.
ESPN International has grown to include ownership — in whole or in part — of over 45 television networks outside of the United States, as well as a variety of brand extension businesses, which allow ESPN to reach fans in 200 countries and territories. In the UK, ESPN now includes a portfolio of television and digital brands including ESPN, ESPN Classic, ESPN America, ESPNcricinfo.com, ESPNscrum.com, ESPNsoccernet.com, ESPN360.com and Racing-live.com.
On 3rd August ESPN launched a new channel in the UK called ESPN. That followed the announcement on 22 June 2009 that ESPN was awarded the exclusive rights to 46 Live Barclays Premier League matches in the 2009-10 Season and 23 matches a season from 2010-2013. On 16 July ESPN was awarded exclusive live rights to Clydesdale Bank Premier League games for the next five seasons, showing 30 live games each season across the UK and Ireland, starting with the 2009-10 campaign this August.
ESPN Classic Sport now has five networks (UK, French, Italian, pan-European and Middle Eastern feeds) available in over 40 countries, and ESPN America has rights to show NFL, NHL, MLB and NCAA Football and Basketball across Europe, available in 43 countries. Online, ESPNSoccernet.com is the destination of choice for football fans worldwide. ESPN acquired cricinfo.com – the world’s leading cricket website – and scrum.com – a leading rugby news, features and information portal – in summer 2007, and subsequently rebranded them ESPNCricinfo.com and ESPNScrum.com. ESPN360.com – the company’s signature broadband service – launched in Europe in January 2008. In August 2008, ESPN acquired the world’s leading independent motor racing website, Racing-Live.com.