Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


BT Sport in bid for November coverage

Greig Laidlaw - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Greig Laidlaw - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

According to Rob Robertson over at the Daily *Bleep*, BT have put in a bid for the broadcast rights to Scotland’s home November Internationals. Apparently their bid is greater than the current offer on the table from the BBC. The current deal with the BBC expired last Autumn so a new deal will be in place but who will be providing television pictures remains to be seen.

Scottish Rugby, understandably, are keen that coverage remain free to air in this time of unprecedented grwoth for rugby in Scotland and are understood to be proposing a joint deal. Which you imagine would be ideal for everyone except BT, as everyone would most likely continue to watch it on the Beeb save for a few hardcore viewers who might prefer BT’s more technically detailed/proficient style of coverage. You would think, from a business point of view, BT would push for exclusivity or take the money off the table.

Or the SRU may just cave in to their main shirt and stadium sponsor.

Summer tour games are already a hidden mystery that leaves us searching for coverage or watching online streams, which would leave just the BBC with the Six Nations and ITV with the World Cup every 4 years. Would it be worth losing the ability to watch Scotland on the council telly more regularly each year if it meant a big marquee signing for each pro-team?

This Autumn, Scotland play Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

19 Responses

  1. Tough one.

    I think the absolute marquee event of the 6N absolutely has to stay on terrestrial/free to air.

    At the end of the day, I don’t know what sort of impact the Autumn internationals have on the collective conscience of non rugby types. Is getting a nice stack of cash in return for not particularly popular games worth it?

    The only thing I could find was this in the Scotsman

    which seems to suggest that there’s around 200k viewers. Now, that would be for 2009 by the looks of things. Perhaps as we get better, people are more interested?

    As an aside, I’m less worried about marquee signings and far more interested in getting our grassroots bolstered further. Feels like there is loads going on more but the real way to get engagement isn’t putting the product on TV, it’s getting people playing when they are kids.

  2. Can anyone advise what the best free streaming channels are for Scottish rugby these days?

    I don’t have a paid TV subscription and trying to convince London pubs to show Scottish Rugby is a real challenge.


  3. I would suggest (from personal experience) that there are likely three types of Scottish rugby fans:

    1. The fans that only watch the six nations
    2. The fans that watch all Scottish internationals
    3. The fans that watch all Scottish internationals plus the club games

    I would also, anecdotally, suggest that the numbers in category 3 are substantially lower than in category 1.

    Even if fans in category 3 no longer have access to the games, they will still be dedicated rugby followers, these fans are of less concern to the SRU in terms of growth of the game. Category 1, however, are probably the most important for growth of the game. These more casual supporters are less likely to have knowledge of the game if it is inaccessible, less likely to buy merchandise and less likely to encourage their kids to play the game.

    The key question then is, how many fans are category 1 and how many are category 2? If there is little difference in the numbers, moving the autumn games to pay-TV could be devastating for supporter engagement. If, however, there is a relatively high proportion of our support interested in only the 6N then the SRU may be better to take the money. I only hope the SRU have good data to base their decision on!

  4. Worth mentioning I’d welcome BT getting rights to our summer tours. Be nice to know where I can look for matches.

  5. Pay TV is never a good thing in the long run, especially for a sport that doesn’t have a massive following anyway. Same thing happened with F1 (my other favourite sport) a few years ago. Can’t fault Sky’s coverage but it has turned off a massive amount of casual punters who would maybe watch a race if it happened to be on or the folk that get wind of a championship battle and tune into the last few races.

    Totally agree with David B, the casual punter makes up the bulk of and the most important type of fan. The diehards will follow through thick and thin but in order to grow the fan base you need to have it accessible to your random punter then reel them in, get them to go to a game, buy a shirt, get their kids involved etc.

    Mind you as I don’t / won’t give BT a penny of my money it will mean I have to go to the pub to watch the games, hmm….

  6. Stay on the Beeb (for now). Scottish football is in the doldrums with a crap national team and an uncompetitive club game. Our game is on an upward curve and, concussion concerns aside, is an attractive proposition for sports fans (Glasgow’s crowds show that). Added to that the fact we face the All Blacks post the English, Welsh and Irish Lions tour offers a compelling narrative. As if a first victory over New Zealand wouldn’t be sweet enough, imagine we could rub Gatland’s nose in it after his Lions are humbled. Unlikely maybe but a good story in the lead up. The Beeb’s coverage has been poor but we need to try and make sure as many people are engaged as possible. Hopefully BT can be pacified by the thought of all those shirt logos in the papers after our victory!

  7. I see premiership rugby is saying its confirmed that the lions tour will be reduced after this one , those halfwits need to learn their place and world rugby needs to stop giving into their demands all the time , it makes me sick.

  8. In terms of coverage it’s important to differentiate between BBC nationally and BBC Scotland/Alba. The latters coverage of Pro12 has improved year on year even. The formers coverage of test games is almost unwatchable due in the main to the afterthought effort put into presentation around the game. We’ve all seen it, scotland play Italy or whoever but pre, mid and post match all we get are items or interviews or discussion about who England are playing. Its disgraceful. BT Sport may be just as bad but at least the SRU will get more money for their trouble. I can see a time where, as with most summer tour games (which are normally on Sky) the autumn games are on BT Sport. However, there is nothing to stop the SRU selling delayed extended highlights packages to terrestrial broadcasters. ITV won’t bid as they won’t see any commercial revenue from a show with a couple of hundred thousand viewers. The BBC will though in order to maintain their Sport Portfolio. It may end up on BBC Scotland only with those of us in England having to watch on the iPlayer but this would keep the sport available to all who want to watch it in some format.

    1. You’re so right about the BBC (and ITV, to be fair) 6N coverage. Last year’s Scotland France match didn’t even mention Scotland until 42 minutes in. That’s when I knew that we were living in a post-satire society.

    1. You’re right about this by the way. everything is moving to streaming now. Indeed, BT’s channels are actually just internet based channels i.e. they are’t transmitted in the same way the BBC 1/2 etc are.

      If you look to things like the NFL, they are more than experimenting with streaming. Twitter had the rights to stream live games last season and Amazon Prime will be doing it this season.

      Now Scottish rugby doesn’t have the same pull as the NFL but you can bet that where the big boys tread now, all others will follow in pretty quick succession.

  9. The standard of BBC rugby coverage is dire, who on earth would actively choose to listen to Brian Moore and Jonathan Davies (laughed in contempt on air at the prospect of any Scottish back-rowers making the Lions) over the likes of BOD, Ben Kay and even Healy on BT Sport??

    Having said that I quite like the BBC Alba coverage, John Beattie often makes me laugh and is pretty informative.

    The more rugby the BBC lose there might be a chance they actually listen to licence fee payers and banish Jonathan Davies to a deep dark coal mine somewhere in Wales.

    1. Of all the ex player pundits Brian Moore is the best rugby commentator around (Justin Marshall is pretty decent) imo, I really enjoy listening to him. Gives England more stick than anyone else. John Beattie on the other hand..

    2. Brian Moore has grown on me also, I have came to the conclusion that he hates everyone equally, England possibly more so, so that’s fine with me. His frustration with the annoying nuances of the modern game amuses me. I imagine Beattie would annoy non Scots.

      Guscott, Wood and Inverdale are laughably bad, Andy Nicol is just a bit boring. Jiffy and Woodward I can’t even bear to speak about. I quite like Martin Williams and POC, they tend to be reasonably balanced and having played until quite recently avoid the droning “back in my day” of the others. It pains me to admit but I actually quite like Jonny Wilkinson, his analysis and ability to spot little things and opportunities are as sharp as a pundit as they were when he was playing.

      1. There’s a room on the lowest level of hell reserved for Inverdale – God I hate that man so much! His smug face and his disdain for anything other than England! Ugh!

        It also pains me to agree with the comments on Moore and Wilkinson, I want to dislike them but I find them informative and engaging.

  10. Oh sod off!

    I will not have another stupid cable or stupid box plugged into my TV. Sell it to a vaguely modern company who do an offering where I can pay a subscription and stream it over the net, not companies that try to tie you into getting their stupid boxes and phone lines installed.

    BBC Alba being available on iPlayer in England has actually allowed me to get somewhat into the club game finally, to the point where I’ve stumped up money to go support Glasgow when they were in London. It’s anecdotal but drawing more people in that way is good no?

    It will also make my chances of seeing the games in England exactly nil as pubs down here that have expensive sports packages are going to show the football. It’s normally OK getting a pub with terrestrial to put a Scotland game on.

    1. To be fair, I think you can buy BT sport and use it as an app only. You don’t need to have the box.

  11. DMac The Moore/Cotter twosome is about the best on TV at present. Guscott and Butler are unlistenable and unwatchable. Inverdale should have something evil done to him and, strangely, I don’t mind Davies. Andy Nicol just wants to be vanilla and have people not think he’s too Scottish. Strangely, if you look on English Rugby sites, many English posters think he’s a raving Scotnat.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion