Discovery retains Six Nations rights in Italy
Discovery Italia, an arm of the international media giant, will to continue to be the exclusive home of rugby union’s Six Nations in Italy after it agreed a renewal of its deal with the organiser of the annual tournament that features England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy.
The new agreement, which runs until 2021 and also includes rights to the women’s Six Nations, will commence with the 2018 tournament.
All of the Italian women's national team’s matches will air on the Discovery-owned Eurosport 2, beginning with Italy's opener against England on 4 February.
DMAX, the Discovery-owned free-to-air digital terrestrial channel, and DPlay, the OTT live-streaming service, will show all 15 games from the Six Nations tournament.
Discovery has aired the last four editions of the Six Nations as part of its initial deal that expired after last year's Six Nations. In 2013, Discovery replaced Sky Italia, the pay-television broadcaster, as the home of the Six Nations in Italy.
DMAX netted record viewing figures during last year’s Six Nations as 868,000 viewers (equal to a 4.7-per-cent viewing share) watched the Italy-Wales clash.
Discovery also shows Italy’s autumn test internationals in a separate agreement with the FIR, the Italian rugby union federation.
Alfredo Gavazzi, president of the FIR, said: “In the last four years the collaboration between FIR and Discovery Italia has developed to become one of the strategic assets of FIR communication. DMAX has become the reference channel for all supporters of our national team, while Eurosport with the Guinness Pro14 and the Champions Cup weekly offers high-quality rugby weekly.”
Discovery teamed up with IMG to bid for the Six Nations international broadcast rights from 2018 to 2021, but lost out to incumbent Pitch International. The offer also included Italy, meaning that any deal would have involved continued coverage on Discovery’s channels in the country.