ESPN signs three-year £25m deal with Premier Rugby

LONDON - Premier Rugby, the organisation owned by the top 12 professional rugby clubs in England, has secured an exclusive three-year deal with international sports broadcaster, ESPN, valued in the region of £25m.

ESPN: doubling live coverage of Guinness Premiership matches
ESPN: doubling live coverage of Guinness Premiership matches

Beginning next season, ESPN will double its number of live televised rugby matches by adding 43 matches per season from the Guinness Premiership, running through to the 2012-2013 season.

The deal includes exclusive live coverage of the Guinness Premiership Final and one of the two semi-final matches.

It also includes highlight rights for use on ESPN digital media, such as ESPNScrum.com.

Jon Varney, commercial director of Premier Rugby, called ESPN "yet another blue-chip supporter of club rugby in England", and said the deal will "further raise the profile of the sport in the UK and overseas".

The agreement adds to ESPN's coverage of rugby in the UK, where it already 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 broadcaster was catapulted into the spotlight after it added 46 Barclays Premier League football matches to its portfolio this summer following the collapse of Setanta.

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.

 

 

 

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