Super League sign new two-year TV deal with Sky Sports
Betfred Super League has announced a new two-year broadcast deal with Sky Sports.
The agreement ends a long, drawn-out period of negotiation started in 2020 by executive chairman Robert Elstone and concluded by his temporary replacement Ken Davy.
The new deal will kick in when the current five-year agreement with Sky runs out at the end of the year and extends the partnership between the broadcaster and Super League to the end of 2023, a period of 28 years.
The original deal, struck in 1995 with Rupert Murdoch to pave the way for a switch to summer, was worth £87million spread over five years and the latest agreement will signify another drop in the value of rugby league’s premier league.
The new deal is thought to be worth around £25m a year, compared to £40m a year at present.
After the 12 Super League clubs take their share, it could leave little for the Rugby Football League, which lost the right to conduct the broadcast negotiations when Super League clubs broke away from the governing body in 2018, and the clubs in the second and third tiers of the professional pyramid.
However, the RFL now has its own streaming service and is expected to be in a position to negotiate a deal with another broadcast partner to show Championship and League 1 matches, which are currently part of the Sky package.
Also, as part of the new deal, Sky have agreed to make some of this season’s fixtures available via free-to-air Sky platforms in an effort to increase audiences.
Davy, who stepped into the breach caused by the departure of Elstone in March, said: “It’s great to be able to extend our excellent partnership with Sky Sports.
“Sky have been with us since the start of the competition, back in 1996, and are now an integral part of the Super League family.
“Together our partnership has seen Super League achieve record viewing figures in recent years.
“We’ve worked closely throughout the current pandemic and every step of the way Sky have been immensely supportive.
“Together we have managed to give fans an exceptional amount of coverage in these unprecedented times.
“We’re truly grateful for Sky Sports’ comprehensive Super League coverage, capturing so many iconic moments for over 25 years.
“Super League looks forward to working with Sky Sports on the exciting free-to-air opportunity, growing our audience and allowing more fans than ever before to see our great game.”
Under the new agreement, Sky will show 66 live matches each season and have first pick of the weekly rounds and the play-offs. The satellite broadcaster will also retain exclusive rights to the Magic Weekend and Grand Final.
Sky Sports managing director Rob Webster said: “We’re delighted to be continuing our rights deal with the Betfred Super League to 2023.
“It is testament to the quality of the competition and our coverage that sees our partnership move beyond a quarter of a century.
“The Betfred Super League continues to produce fantastic drama on the pitch and is an essential part of our offering to Sky Sports customers.
“We look forward to bringing our viewers more magic moments from the competition in the years to come.”