Every Guinness PRO14 game to be broadcast live in HD

Scottish Rugby today welcomed the news that PRO14 Rugby have signed a landmark partnership with Premier Sports and FreeSports to show every Guinness PRO14 game live for the next three years.

The agreement from the 2018/19 season means supporters in the UK, including Northern Ireland, can experience the Guinness PRO14 like never before with all 152 games broadcast in High Definition on Premier Sports HD, with no less than 21 games (one per round) shown live Free-To-Air on FreeSports.

The Guinness PRO14 represents a major rights acquisition and will be treated as the broadcaster’s number one property, delivering cutting edge, High-Definition production of games, as well as weekly magazine and highlights shows.

PRO14 Rugby will shortly announce the Republic of Ireland broadcaster while negotiations continue with a local language broadcaster in the UK.

Scottish Rugby Chief Operating Officer and Board Director of the PRO14, Dominic McKay, said: “We’re delighted that Premier Sports are to become the key broadcast partner of the Guinness PRO14, every game the a season will be broadcast live, in HD, on a one-stop shop for supporters for the next three seasons.

“The production values of the live broadcast will be accompanied by studio settings and magazine shows, creating regular platform to tell more of the clubs’ stories from behind the scenes.

“It’s also fantastic financial news for the clubs and means we can invest further in Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby to ensure they continue to compete with the best teams in the league but also Europe.

“We think this is very good for the game in Scotland but also in presenting the league across the whole of the UK, where you can watch an outstanding product live, in HD, every single weekend.

“It’s a really pleasing day for the PRO14 moving forward, while I’d also like to recognise the great work that’s gone in from BBC Scotland and BBC ALBA, who have done so much to elevate and promote our sport to this point.”

Glasgow Warriors Managing Director, Nathan Bombrys, added: “It’s a really exciting opportunity for the competition.

“Premier Sports will be able to create a narrative week in, week out, which means our supporters will be able to follow the story of our season and the entire Championship in a way they haven’t had the opportunity to do before.

“We’re committed to Friday nights at Scotstoun, and with one broadcaster there should be less competition for the available slots, meaning we should end up with better and more consistent kick-off times.

“It is a very good financial deal for the competition, but it also gives us the chance to be the main content – we’re going to be the main sport on the channels, which is a huge opportunity.”



Where to watch...

Premier Sports will show two live games on a Friday on Premier Sports 1 and Premier Sports 2 and four live games on Premier Sports 1 and Premier Sports 2 on a Saturday. There will be one free-to-air match per round on Premier Sports’ sister channel FreeSports.

Premier Sports is available in 16 million UK homes across Sky and Virgin platforms and to everyone via the Premier Player, while Free Sports is in 18 million UK homes.

Martin Anayi, CEO of PRO14 Rugby, said: “The partnership with Premier Sports will be a watershed for the Guinness PRO14, our clubs and their supporters.

“As an innovative global rugby championship full of world-class players, we are always looking to raise our game and this relationship is a bold step for us. This will take coverage of the Guinness PRO14 to a new level and unlock the tournament’s vast potential.

“The bidding for broadcast rights showed us just how much interest there is in the Guinness PRO14 since our expansion into South Africa and the significantly increased revenue will allow us to invest back into our clubs, a figure which has doubled over the last three years.”

Dermot Rigley, Commercial and Marketing Director of PRO14 Rugby, said: “Most major rugby properties now have a subscription model with broadcasters valuing the Guinness PRO14 as one of the premier club competitions in world rugby.

“The production standards will be like nothing ever seen before in the Guinness PRO14 with each game broadcast in HD and complemented by expert analysis, TMOs at every game and magazine shows and highlights programmes.”

Richard Webb, Chief Operating Officer at Premier Sports/FreeSports, added: “We are delighted to have concluded a deal to showcase what we consider to be the most exciting club rugby championship in the world.

“We believe having all 152 games from every round across our two Premier Sports channels for just £9.99 a month with high level, consistent production represents superb value and means that, for the first time, supporters have unprecedented access to every minute of the Guinness PRO14 all under one roof.”


Q: Which games will be on which channels?
A: All the games in the United Kingdom will be shown live in HD with Premier Sports screening six games per round and FreeSports broadcasting a ‘Showcase’ fixture. The exact scheduling will be confirmed in due course, but it will enable viewers to watch every game live.

Q: How do I access Premier Sports & FreeSports?
Premier Sports is a High Definition subscription service available to 16 million UK homes and on the Sky and Virgin Media platforms and available to everyone on all devices via the Premier Player. FreeSports is the Free-to-Air (FTA) sister channel of Premier Sports and is the UK’s only dedicated FTA Sports channel available in 22 million UK homes. FreeSports will turn High Definition in the summer.

  • Sky
  • Freeview
  • FreeSat
  • TalkTalk
  • BT Vision
  • Virgin Media (launching this summer)
  • TVPlayer online

Q: I have Freeview HD but can’t access FreeSports?
Most Freeview boxes automatically retune but some models still require a manual retune to receive new channels or view channels again when they move number. Transmitter changes can also result in a retune being required. For information visit: https://www.freeview.co.uk/support/living-with-freeview/retuning

Q: How can I find out more about Premier Sports?
Premier Sports have a Frequently Asked Questions page on their website which you can read at this link: http://www.premiersports.com/info/faqs/

Q: How can I find out more about FreeSports?
FreeSports have a Frequently Asked Questions page on their website which you can read at this link: https://www.freesports.tv/faqs/

Q: Will I need a set-top box or a satellite dish?
No. Premier Sports, FreeSports have apps or online players which are castable to television or other monitors (via Amazon Fire Stick, Chromecast but not Roku) and also have online players.

Q: Why are you moving to a subscription model?
Increasing revenues allows PRO14 Rugby to increase distribution to its teams and to further invest in the Championship to ensure standards on and off the pitch continue to rise. This will be clear to see from the High Definition live broadcasts and supporting programming produced by all of our new broadcast partners.

For the first-time ever it also allows for every gamein the Guinness PRO14 to be broadcast live and in High Definition. The tendering process for these broadcast rights has proved that the Guinness PRO14 is a much sought-after tournament thanks to the strength of our existing clubs and the successful expansion into South Africa.

Q: What impact will the new broadcast deals have on kick-off times?
Our new broadcasters have control over their schedules and have less restrictions compared to network television. This means that our broadcasters will be able to work closely with our teams to help provide kick-off times and dates that are better suited to them and more convenient to their supporters.

Q: What other benefits will there be?
There will be extended pre and post-match analysis, magazine shows, highlights packages and Television Match Officials at every game which is a significant step forward for the Guinness PRO14 in order to raise standards across the board.

Q: Why have you chosen Premier Sports?
Premier Sports are putting rugby at the forefront of their sports portfolio through HD production of games, expert analysis and weekly magazine shows. All significant global rugby properties have moved to subscription broadcasters and it is a mark of the value of the Guinness PRO14 that Premier Sports and the Irish broadcaster, among others, tendered so competitively for the rights. We have also secured a significant portion of Free-to-Air programming in the UK with FreeSports. A deal is currently under discussion for FTA coverage with native language stations across the UK.

Q: Where will PRO14 sit within Premier Sports’ catalogue of broadcast rights?
: Guinness PRO14 represents a major rights acquisition for Premier Sports and will be treated as the channel’s No 1 property. It has shown French Rugby Union internationals, the Rugby League World Cup, Ice Hockey, Motorsports, Cricket, Champions League and Europa League qualifiers.

Q: How will this help to further growing the tournament and engage with rugby supporters of all ages?
After the successful expansion into South Africa, the Guinness PRO14 is continuing to grow in strength with unprecedented interest leading to rising attendances, increased broadcast viewers and an upsurge in social media engagement. This new broadcast deal is the next stage in that growth process.

Free-To-Air coverage on FreeSports (21 games) is a vital component of these broadcast agreements to ensure all fans have access to every round of action in the Guinness PRO14. By better resourcing our clubs we can ensure they are sustainable and can better invest from the ground up to drive success and retain supporters and attract new fans of all ages.

Q: How does this directly help my club?
Our clubs will be directly benefit from the increased revenue this broadcast partnership will bring, in the same way that the expansion of the Guinness PRO14 to South Africa saw SuperSport join our family of broadcasters. The new revenues this generates allows our clubs to further invest in their playing squads and infrastructure.

For those loyal supporters who, for various reasons, cannot purchase season tickets, or attend games, subscription secures a direct contribution to their club.

Q: Premier Sports have a castable app, does this move signal a desire to attract and retain a younger audience?
Not all broadcasters allow their customers to cast content but in the era of ‘digital first’ content it is important that rugby fans could access all 152 Guinness PRO14 games across all of their devices. Video views, social media engagement and the tournament’s digital audience have all grown significantly during the 2017/18 season and this move will ensure we are catering for fans who clearly have an appetite to get their PRO14 Rugby action across all manner of devices.