In news that is sure to warm the soul of many a penny-pinching Scotsman, the Six Nations Council have today announced that they have accepted a joint bid from BBC and ITV to broadcast the RBS 6 Nations Championship for a duration of six years from 2016.
BBC are the current rights holders and have been pretty much since time-began, but there had been heavy pressure from the pay-tv sector, mainly Sky Sports, to try and muscle in on the coverage. The joint bid for ITV was the only way they could manage the financial clout to keep the tournament free-to-air.
Under the new joint system the BBC will transmit live coverage of all home matches of Scotland, Wales and France while ITV will transmit live coverage of all home matches of England, Ireland and Italy. The broadcaster that does not broadcast the last match of a Six Nations weekend will transmit a Sunday highlights show rounding up all the action from the weekend. Which almost means a return to the days of Rugby Special (cue theme tune in your head).
Bill Beaumont, Six Nations Council Chairman said: “Both the BBC and ITV are committed partners of rugby, ITV with their coverage of the Rugby World Cup and the BBC with their long history of covering the RBS 6 Nations. We are excited to be working with them both to continue to develop the interest in the Championship and to ultimately grow this wonderful game for future generations to enjoy, either as a spectator, player or volunteer.
John Feehan, Chief Executive of the Six Nations said: “The RBS 6 Nations is unique, providing a rich and respected rivalry, with many or the world’s best players at the very pinnacle of their careers, playing for their countries with pride and in the right spirit. This agreement with two major broadcasters will ensure that all these aspects are reflected in the coverage for the fans to enjoy.”
Here at the Scottish Rugby Blog we welcome this decision to keep the Six Nations free to air. What do you think, are you sad you won’t hear Stuart Barnes et al commentating on the Calcutta Cup?