Channel 5 has expanded its sports coverage with a new broadcast agreement that will see Premiership Rugby shown live on free-to-air TV for the first time in the competition’s history.
The four-year agreement with Premiership Rugby will see Channel 5 broadcast five live games each season from the start of the 2017/18 and builds on the broadcasters growing live sports portfolio which now includes boxing, Formula E, English Football League (EFL) highlights and cricket with a deal to air coverage of the Big Bash League (BBL).
In addition to the live fixtures Channel 5 will also air a weekly highlights programme showing action from around the grounds as well as insights from former and current players.
Channel 5 will share the broadcast rights with BT Sport, who will continue to broadcast up to 80 live Premiership games per season.
Paul Dunthorne, chief operating officer at Channel 5’s owners, VIMN UK, said: “This deal underlines our commitment to live sport following our coverage of the Big Bash League, with terrestrial TV viewers enjoying live cricket for the first time in over a decade.
“Premiership Rugby is one of the most exciting competitions in UK sport; we hope our national reach aligned with our commitment to the sport will enable Premiership Rugby to reach new audiences.”
Premiership Rugby’s chief executive, Mark McCafferty, added: “This agreement with Channel 5 will supplement the brilliant, season-long coverage we have with BT Sport. It will give even more fans a taste of the excitement, incredible skills and unpredictability on show in Premiership Rugby every week”
“We have a very successful partnership with BT Sport that has seen our ratings grow by more than 40% across the last four years. This new agreement with Channel 5 complements that partnership and will bring club rugby to a new audience to provide a fantastic shop window.”
As well as strengthening its sports coverage Channel 5 has also moved to revamp its advertising model after striking a deal with Sky AdSmart.