Premier Sports, the international pay-television operator, has extended its rights deal to cover European national team rugby union’s Six Nations across Asia and has also struck a new deal to cover the tournament in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
In advance of this year’s tournament starting this weekend (February 5), the broadcaster has retained coverage rights in Asia to the six-team Six Nations (featuring England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Italy) for the next three years, with its MENA deal covering the 2022 campaign only.
Premier Sports first covered the championships in Asia last year, in its first major rugby rights acquisition in that region, and now takes over from Qatar-based pay-TV operator BeIN as the Six Nations’ network partner in MENA. BeIN had held these rights since 2011.
Premier Sports Asia’s coverage, starting on February 5 with Ireland against Wales as the annual championship gets underway, will extend across both linear and over-the-top channels run by Premier Sports.
The extension and expansion of the Six Nations deal add to what is already a bulging rugby union portfolio for Premier Sports. The broadcaster already holds rights to the United Rugby Championship (URC) club competition and France’s domestic Top14 competition in the UK, while last July and August it covered the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa across 22 Asian markets.
Its existing Six Nations deal across Asia also covered the 2020 Autumn Nations Series, which acted in part as an extension of that year’s Six Nations which was heavily disrupted by Covid-19.
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The new Six Nations deal also covers the women’s and under-20’s tournaments, which Premier Sports will cover across Asia.
From the start of the men’s tournament next weekend, Premier Sports will show all 15 matches live over the five rounds.
The Asian countries in which Premier Sports is available as a streaming service include India, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
In MENA, countries where the broadcaster operates include: Iraq, Oman, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Morocco.
Premier Sports' linear channels, meanwhile, are available across both regions on multiple platforms.
Ryle Nugent, chief executive of Premier Sports in Asia and MENA, said: “The Six Nations means so much to so many rugby fans around the globe … We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring this wonderful Championship to our audiences. To bolster our Six Nations offering with the women’s and U20 competitions truly allows us to strengthen our premium rugby union content offering.”
Last month, Stan Sports, the online streaming platform owned by Australian commercial broadcaster Nine Network, secured Six Nations rights through a multi-year deal kicking off this year.
The agreement between Stan and Six Nations Ltd, the tournament’s organizer, also gives the streaming service rights to the Autumn Nations Series later this year, as well as to the women’s Six Nations and the Under-20 competition.
Every game from these tournaments will be covered both live and on-demand by Stan.
BeIN also previously covered the event in Australia, with last year’s tournament being the last of a four-year deal.
In December, Welsh-language broadcaster S4C entered into a deal to cover all that country’s games in the Six Nations for the next four years.
The agreement was struck with public service broadcaster the BBC and its commercial counterpart ITV, which hold primary UK-wide rights to the top European national teams competition.
The UK and ITV deal for the Six Nations, with those networks also scheduled to cover the tournament live for the next four years, was agreed in principle last May.