Premiership Rugby matches will be shown live on terrestrial television for the first time in the competition's history, as Premiership Rugby and Channel 5 today confirm a landmark four-year deal.
The agreement will see Channel 5 broadcast five live games each season from 2017-18, as well as show a highlights programme every Sunday night, covering Premiership Rugby, Anglo-Welsh Cup and Premiership Rugby 7s.
The new contract has been agreed after a competitive bidding process, and will see Channel 5 simulcast five live games with BT Sport, who will continue to broadcast up to 80 live Premiership games per season.
This new deal for club rugby adds to Channel 5's growing sports portfolio, which includes live boxing and motor sports (including live Formula E Racing), weekly football highlights from across the EFL, as well as its acclaimed cricket highlights package showcasing all England home games. The channel also demonstrated its commitment to live sport recently by providing a terrestrial home for live cricket (also simulcast with BT Sport) for the first time in over a decade, earlier this year, when it broadcast five T20 fixtures from the Australian Big Bash League.
The deal with Premiership Rugby also sees Channel 5 secure the rights to broadcast a weekly highlights programme. The show will feature all the action from around the grounds, and is set to be fronted by recognised names, as well as featuring the insights of former and current players. Channel 5 will announce its production partner in due course.
Earlier in the season Premiership Rugby extended its agreement with Perform, one of the world's leading digital sports content and media groups. The five-year deal with Perform Group confirms that they will continue producing the Premiership Rugby Highlights show.
"This agreement with Channel 5 will supplement the brilliant, season-long coverage we have with BT Sport," said Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive, Premiership Rugby. "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."
Paul Dunthorne, COO of VIMN UK, Northern and Eastern Europe commented: "We're delighted to build on our growing sports portfolio and give a terrestrial home to Premiership Rugby. 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."
McCafferty added: "In addition to the live matches Channel 5 will show Sunday night Premiership Rugby highlights at 8pm, which is vital to the continued growth of our competition. That appointment to view has been crucial in growing our live audiences on BT Sport and the same applies to the highlights show.
"The club game in England is booming with a 9% rise in attendances this season and a 44% increase in audiences watching Premiership Rugby since the league started broadcasting on BT Sport. This is coupled with a huge growth in our TV audiences around the world - Premiership Rugby is now available in 200 countries, reaching more than 175 million households globally.
"The 2017-18 season will be the 21st in Premiership Rugby history so what a way to celebrate that milestone than to have both BT Sport and Channel 5 broadcasting the best and most competitive league in the world."