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Channel 5 to screen live Aviva Premiership Rugby from next season

Channel 5 will become the new home of free-to-air live coverage of Aviva Premiership Rugby, simulcasting selected games with BT.

The new contract has been agreed after a competitive bidding process, and will see Channel 5 simulcast a total of five live games with BT Sport over four years, starting 2017-18. BT Sport will continue to broadcast up to 80 live Premiership games per season. In addition to live coverage, the agreement will also see Channel 5 broadcast a highlights programme every Sunday night, covering Premiership Rugby, the Anglo-Welsh Cup and Premiership Rugby 7s.

Until now, BT has shown a small selection of games every season on its own free-to-air sports channel BT Showcase (Freeview channel 59) including last weekend's fixture between Bath and Gloucester, but coverage on the channel has had a low profile: so low that Premiership Rugby have hailed the Channel 5 deal as the first time it will have its games shown on terrestrial TV (BT Showcase is technically a terrestrial channel...).

Paul Dunthorne, Chief Operating Officer of VIMN UK, the company that owns Channel 5, commented:
“We’re delighted to build on our growing sports portfolio and give a terrestrial home to Premiership Rugby. This deal underlines our commitment to live sport following our coverage of the Big Bash League, with terrestrial TV viewers enjoying live cricket for the first time in over a decade.“Premiership Rugby is one of the most exciting competitions in UK sport; we hope our national reach aligned with our commitment to the sport will enable Premiership Rugby to reach new audiences.”