Free-To-Air Broadcaster Loses Rights To Show PRO14 Games

The beginning of the end.

PRO14 games will not be shown on BBC Wales next season, after the national broadcaster lost the television rights from next season on.

The BBC were unable come to terms on a new agreement for the cross-border tournament, which is set to welcome new pay-TV broadcast partners, who WalesOnline are reporting to be Premier Sports.

BBC 2 Wales currently shows a live regional game each weekend. But despite, what they say was a “significantly increased financial bid” they have not been able to secure rights for 2018/19.

In a statement BBC Wales said:

We’re proud of our record of covering live Pro 14 rugby across television, radio and online and we offered a significantly increased financial bid in order to safeguard these rights on a free-to-air basis for hundreds of thousands of viewers in Wales, and across the UK.

“We know there will be a real disappointment at this outcome among hundreds of thousands of rugby fans who have enjoyed live free-to-air coverage on the BBC over many years.”

The PRO14 also issued a statement, saying:

“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.

“As PRO14 Rugby plans for the exciting seasons ahead, the Championship has overseen a highly-competitive tender process with multiple Pay and Free to Air operators across the UK & Republic of Ireland bidding for the broadcast rights in those territories.

“PRO14 Rugby is currently concluding negotiations for these rights ahead of the 2018/19 season and will confirm the final position to partners and supporters once the formal agreements are in place.”

Welsh language channel S4C are hoping they will be able to retain their rights however. What this means for Ireland and Scotland remains to be seen, with PRO14 officials clearly looking to go down the pay-tv route in order to maximise revenue.

Reports back in January suggested eir Sport have won the rights to broadcast the competition next year in Ireland, outbidding Sky Sports. It remains to be seen if TG4 will still be able to show games under this potential deal.