Channel 5’s move into Rugby Premiership is a good thing for Rugby
Recently we saw a surprise announcement that Channel 5 would be adding live Aviva Premiership rugby games to its ever growing sports schedule.
Rugby matches will be shown live on terrestrial television for the first time in the competition’s history, as Premiership Rugby and Channel 5 confirmed a four-year deal worth more than £1 million.
This new deal adds to Channel 5’s growing sports portfolio, which includes live boxing and motor sports (including Formula E Racing), weekly football highlights from across the EFL, as well as its acclaimed cricket highlights package showcasing all England home games.
It’s understandable why Channel 5 wants to get in on the rugby action. It takes only a cursory glance at this year’s Six Nations viewing figures (a combined 11 million tuned in for the two most popular matches on the BBC and ITV) to see there is clearly a big audience to tap into. From these types of figures, attracting even a fraction of those numbers would be seen as a success, for the channel.
This is also a smart move by the Aviva Premiership which will see a wider audience demographic tuning in to watch the matches on Channel 5. It won’t be just the ‘toff’s’ tuning in but regular people will be able to enjoy the highlights of English rugby which could inspire a new generation of rugby players to take up the oval ball. With the England team rising to 2nd in the world behind only the mighty All Blacks, English rugby seems as popular as ever, which makes this move from Channel 5 very calculated.
To start with, the terrestrial channel will only broadcast five live games but within the deal the channel also secured the rights to broadcast a weekly highlights programme.
This show will feature all the action from all the games, and is set to be fronted by recognisable names, as well as featuring the insights of former and current players. We’re still to hear who will be presenting, but a superstar name would certainly help with credibility and add a little glamour.
Premiership Rugby is going from strength to strength, with the league being able to attract worldwide superstars. Such as Kurtley Beale, Schalk Burger and Louis Picamoles who are all choosing to play rugby in the English Premiership, in most part due to the increased wages the teams were able to offer thanks to the deal with BT Sport. This new deal with should really strengthen the club’s abilities to attract the best players in the world as well as keeping the best English players in the domestic league, which ultimately can only be a massive benefit to the game in England overall.