For the last few years, top-tier rugby seems to have gone the way of the football Premier League, with more and more of the games going to pay-TV providers making it more difficult for fans to watch live games from the Premiership, European Champions Cup and the Pro12.
Fear not though, SwitchTV is here to help you find the best package for you!
Since launching in 2013, BT Sport sought out Rugby as a great way to bring fans to its platform, in addition to it’s arguably higher profile football rights. This deal was extended in 2017, meaning that BT Sport remains the main broadcaster for all Premiership games, so if you want to watch games every weekend, you’ll need BT Sport.
However – there is a bit of good news for free-to-air fans, in that latest deal, the Premiership also signed up with Channel 5 to broadcast a highlights programme every Sunday evening and 5 live games per season too.
European Champions Cup
This one is an easy one. If you want to see the ECC live, you need BT Sport. In 2018, BT Sport acquired all of the rights to the European club rugby matches (including the Challenge Cup) until at least the end of the 2021/22 campaign. Up to 134 matches per season will be shown live over nine weekends on TV – so lots of double and triple headers for you to enjoy.
In 2018, Pro14 announced that the games were leaving the BBC and Sky to be broadcast primarily by Premier Sports, a paid channel, with one game from each round also on the free to air channel Free Sports. This hybrid of a subscription and FTA model is certainly an interesting development, keeping some of the games available to all to keep up viewing figures whilst earning more money from a pay-TV provider.
Premier Sports is available to buy direct from them, which then enables the channel on your Sky or Virgin TV box. If you don’t have Sky or Virgin you can still subscribe, and then watch the games either on your PC or tablet or Chromecast to your big TV. Find out more about Chromecasting here.
FreeSports is already available from your existing provider (including Freeview) so have a look on your TV guide for the right channel.
When you’re English, but married to a Welshie, the Six Nations is always a tense period in our house. The good news for everyone is that the games will be available free to air until at least 2021, split between being shown on the BBC and ITV. There seem to be some rumours of wanting to go to Pay TV, but we’ve not seen that substantiated just yet.
For 2020, the games are shared between BBC and ITV. Who shows the game depends on who is playing at home.
So, if England, Italy, and Ireland are playing at home, then the game will be televised on ITV. However, if France, Scotland, and Wales are, then the BBC is televising the match.
This gets a bit tricky – rights are agreed between each of the nation’s rugby unions before each of the series of games. Looking at the Autumn Internationals, the home nations games were shared between pretty much all of them, with Sky going for the England games, BBC the Wales and Scotland ones and Premier and Channel 4 sharing the rest;
Who has what games then?
We thought a little table might help so you can see who has what at the moment;
|Games shown live per season||Premiership||European Champions Cup||Pro14||Six nations 2020|
|BT Sport Add logo||80||134|
|Premier Sports Add logo||152|
|FreeSports Add logo||21|
|Channel 5 Add logo||5 Plus highlights|
|ITV Add logo||England, Italy, Ireland home games|
|BBC Add logo||France, Scotland, Wales home games|
Want to find the perfect package to watch rugby at home?
Switch TV has a unique channel and programme finder – it’ll give you a great package for the TV you want to watch. Just enter your chosen providers (e.g. “Premiership”) into our handy tool here and we’ll do the rest!