Premier Sports, the UK and Ireland pay-television broadcaster, has entered into a two-year rights deal for the Top 14, the premier French rugby union competition, starting with the final stages of this year’s edition. 

The broadcaster’s deal to show the Top 14, secured through an arrangement with the LNR, the competition’s organising body, runs until the end of the 2022-23 campaign, and covers the final two rounds, and the playoffs, from the ongoing 2020-21 season.

Games will be shown on both Premier Sports 1 and 2 channels, and on its free-to-air sister channel FreeSports. The latter channel will show the action from this year’s playoff series, semi-finals and the grand final on 25 June. 

Over the course of the contract, Premier Sports will have rights to four live games each matchday, and produce a Top 14 weekly highlights show. 

Richard Sweeney, Premier Sports’ chief executive, said: “Premier Sports is absolutely delighted to bring even more world-class live rugby to its channels for sports fans by securing rights to Europe’s renowned Top 14 competition.”

René Bouscatel, president of the LNR, added: “We are delighted that the British and Irish public, who know the game well, will be able to follow the exploits of the world's best players every weekend until 2023, thanks to Premier Sports.”

The Top 14 adds to Premier Sports’ portfolio of top rugby union properties, which includes the Pro14, the competition featuring Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Italian and South African clubs, in a broadcast deal running to the end of this season.

In March, the LNR renewed its domestic broadcasting partnership for the Top 14 with incumbent Canal Plus, the pay-TV giant, until 2027.

Canal Plus will pay an average of €113.6 million ($137.3 million) per year for the exclusive rights to the Top 14 in the 2023-24 season onwards, compared with the €97 million per annum it shells out at present.

It was competition in the auction from L’Equipe, the free-to-air digital terrestrial channel, and telecoms firm Free that helped drive the price up.