New frontier for English Premiership

by AFP

The English Premiership will become the first club rugby union tournament to air on Chinese national television after a four-year deal with free-to-air sports broadcaster CCTV5+ was announced on Thursday.

Beginning with Sunday's clash between Leicester and Saracens, CCTV5+ will show at least 25 Premiership matches a season in China, along with the semi-final and final.

Previously, the 2015 Rugby World Cup was the only rugby tournament to have been broadcast on Chinese television.

"This is a very significant day in the history of Premiership Rugby," said Dominic Hayes, commercial director at Premiership Rugby, in a press release.

"Launching on free-to-air TV in China is part of our strategic goal of increasing the global impact of Premiership Rugby and helping to grow the game in new countries around the world.

"CCTV5+ reaches 400 million households and this will lead to a huge increase in rugby's exposure, in a new and very exciting market."

The new deal extends the Premiership's potential reach to almost 600 million households around the world, the organisation said.

It is the latest broadcast deal to have been announced since media rights agency RDA and Altice/SFR Sport signed a five-year deal for the Premiership's global media rights, starting this season.

The competition is also currently shown in Australia, the United States, France, South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands.