UK Broadcaster Q&A

Adam Redmond
30 April 2018

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PRO14 Rugby have signed a landmark partnership with Premier Sports and FreeSports to broadcast every game from the Guinness PRO14 live in High Definition across the UK and Northern Ireland for at least the next three years. For all queries please read our comprehensive Q&A document below:

Question: How can I watch the Guinness PRO14 next season?
Answer:
You will be able to watch every game from the Guinness PRO14 live in High Definition on Premier Sports and FreeSports in the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, with 21 games showcased on Free-To-Air channel FreeSports.

The combination of subscription and Free-To-Air broadcasters across the UK will allow the competition to reach new heights while remaining accessible to a wider audience.

Q: Which games will I be able to watch?
A:
For the first time in Championship history you will be able to watch all 152 Guinness PRO14 games live in HD, including the Final Series, in the UK – including one Free-To-Air games per 21 rounds of the regular season.

This represents the latest achievement for the Guinness PRO14 after its successful expansion into South Africa and the success enjoyed by its clubs and unions on the European and international stages.

Q: Which games will be on which channels?
A: All the games in the United Kingdom will be shown live in HD with Premier Sports screening six games per round and FreeSports broadcasting a ‘Showcase’ fixture. The exact scheduling will be confirmed in due course, but it will enable viewers to watch every game live.

Q: How do I access Premier Sports & FreeSports?
A:
Premier Sports is a High Definition subscription service available to 16 million UK homes and on the Sky and Virgin Media platforms and available to everyone on all devices via the Premier Player.

FreeSports is the Free-to-Air (FTA) sister channel of Premier Sports and is the UK’s only dedicated FTA Sports channel available in 22 million UK homes. FreeSports will turn High Definition in the summer.

FreeSports is available on:

  • Sky
  • Freeview
  • FreeSat
  • TalkTalk
  • BT Vision
  • Virgin Media (launching this summer)
  • TVPlayer online

Q: I have Freeview HD but can’t access FreeSports?
A:
Most Freeview boxes automatically retune but some models still require a manual retune to receive new channels or view channels again when they move number. Transmitter changes can also result in a retune being required. For information visit:

https://www.freeview.co.uk/support/living-with-freeview/retuning

Q: How can I find out more about Premier Sports?
A:
Premier Sports have a Frequently Asked Questions page on their website which you can read at this link: http://www.premiersports.com/info/faqs/

Q: How can I find out more about FreeSports?
A:
FreeSports have a Frequently Asked Questions page on their website which you can read at this link: https://www.freesports.tv/faqs/

Q: Will I need a set-top box or a satellite dish?
A: No. Premier Sports and FreeSports have apps and online players which are castable to television or other monitors (via Amazon Fire Stick, Chromecast but not Roku) and also have online players.

Q: Why are you moving to a subscription model?
A:
Increasing revenues allows PRO14 Rugby to increase distribution to its teams and to further invest in the Championship to ensure standards on and off the pitch continue to rise. This will be clear to see from the High Definition live broadcasts and supporting programming produced by all of our new broadcast partners.

For the first-time ever it also allows for every game in the Guinness PRO14 to be broadcast live and in High Definition. The tendering process for these broadcast rights has proved that the Guinness PRO14 is a much sought-after tournament thanks to the strength of our existing clubs and the successful expansion into South Africa.

Q: What impact will the new broadcast deals have on kick-off times?
A: Our new broadcasters have control over their schedules and have less restrictions compared to network television. This means that our broadcasters will be able to work closely with our teams to help provide kick-off times and dates that are better suited to them and more convenient to their supporters.

Q: What other benefits will there be?
A: There will be extended pre and post-match analysis, magazine shows, highlights packages and Television Match Officials at every game which is a significant step forward for the Guinness PRO14 in order to raise standards across the board.

Q: Why have you chosen Premier Sports?
A: Premier Sports are putting rugby at the forefront of their sports portfolio through HD production of games, expert analysis and weekly magazine shows. All significant global rugby properties have moved to subscription broadcasters and it is a mark of the value of the Guinness PRO14 that Premier Sports and the Irish broadcaster, among others, tendered so competitively for the rights.

We have also secured a significant portion of Free-to-Air programming in the UK with FreeSports. A deal is currently under discussion for FTA coverage with native language stations across the UK.

Q: Where will PRO14 sit within Premier Sports’ catalogue of broadcast rights?
A: Guinness PRO14 represents a major rights acquisition for Premier Sports and will be treated as the channel’s No 1 property. It has shown French Rugby Union internationals, the Rugby League World Cup, Ice Hockey, Motorsports, Cricket, Champions League and Europa League qualifiers.

Q: How will this help to further growing the tournament and engage with rugby supporters of all ages?
A:
After the successful expansion into South Africa, the Guinness PRO14 is continuing to grow in strength with unprecedented interest leading to rising attendances, increased broadcast viewers and an upsurge in social media engagement. This new broadcast deal is the next stage in that growth process.

Free-To-Air coverage on FreeSports (21 games) is a vital component of these broadcast agreements to ensure all fans have access to every round of action in the Guinness PRO14. By better resourcing our clubs we can ensure they are sustainable and can better invest from the ground up to drive success and retain supporters and attract new fans of all ages.

Q: How does this directly help my club?
A:
Our clubs will be directly benefit from the increased revenue this broadcast partnership will bring, in the same way that the expansion of the Guinness PRO14 to South Africa saw SuperSport join our family of broadcasters. The new revenues this generates allows our clubs to further invest in their playing squads and infrastructure.

For those loyal supporters who, for various reasons, cannot purchase season tickets, or attend games, subscription secures a direct contribution to their club.

Q: Premier Sports have a castable app, does this move signal a desire to attract and retain a younger audience?
A:
Not all broadcasters allow their customers to cast content but in the era of ‘digital first’ content it is important that rugby fans could access all 152 Guinness PRO14 games across all of their devices. Video views, social media engagement and the tournament’s digital audience have all grown significantly during the 2017/18 season and this move will ensure we are catering for fans who clearly have an appetite to get their PRO14 Rugby action across all manner of devices.

Q: I’m a rugby fan living in England, what does this mean for me?
A: For the very first time fans in England will be able to view every single game from the Guinness PRO14 live in HD. We have often been asked by supporters, ex-pats and rugby fans in general how they can consistently view the Championship in England and this deal will allow them to support their clubs like never before.

Premier Sports and FreeSports will provide a one-stop shop for rugby supporters whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Q: I live in the Republic of Ireland, when will you announce those broadcasters?
A: PRO14 Rugby is very excited that fans in the Republic of Ireland will be treated to the same level of Championship action as those across the UK. We look forward to making an official announcement about this very soon.

Q: I live in Italy and want to watch as many Guinness PRO14 matches as possible, how can I do this?
A: Eurosport are currently in discussions about strengthening their existing partnership with PRO14 Rugby in order to deliver greater coverage for rugby fans in Italy. We will provide news on this once all the arrangements are in place.

Q: I live in South Africa and want to watch as many Guinness PRO14 matches as possible, how can I do this?
A: SuperSport show all home games and away games involving South African teams as well as selected other games from the Championship.

Q: What are you planning in terms of the sale of international rights so that fans around the world can watch the Guinness PRO14?
A:
Negotiations are currently taking place for the sale of international rights for the Championship. Our new broadcast deals in the UK and Ireland will allow for unparalleled distribution from a central hub. Not only will every game be broadcast live, but a bespoke international feed will ensure that all of the action from the Guinness PRO14 will be available around the world.

Have a question that we haven’t answered? Get in touch with us via Facebook @PRO14Official

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