Channel 4 has entered into an agreement with IMG for its forthcoming broadcasts of the Betfred Super League, as the tournament makes its free-to-air debut.
Under the terms of the two-year contract, IMG will provide coverage of Super League fixtures live from the stadiums, with production work conducted at its newly-planned Leeds office.
As a result of a seperate deal between Channel 4 and the Super League, the top-flight European rugby league tournament will be broadcast FTA for the first time in its 26 year history.
A total of ten live matches and the Grand FInal highlights will be broadcast on Channel 4 for the next two years as a result of the deal, with the broadcaster bolstering its sports content, which has so far included cricket, rugby union, tennis, motorsports and most recently the rights to this year’s FIFA Club World Cup final.
Commenting on the network’s deal with IMG for its Super League content, Channel 4 Head of Sport Pete Andrews said: “It was a very competitive tender process but IMG showed a vision that really stood out.
“And we were absolutely delighted when they revealed their plans to open a Leeds base. This chimes perfectly with Channel 4’s ambition – to help boost the production industry in the Nations and Regions. I can’t wait for the coverage of our first live Super League game on 12 February when Leeds Rhinos take on Warrington Wolves.”
IMG’s Leeds production team will develop content specifically for Channel 4’s FTA purposes, based in the offices Sticks and Glass in the city centre, and is currently hiring creative, production management and technical support teams.
The deal is IMG’s second major sports-focused partnership of this year, following on from its arrangement with the organisers of the LPGA Tour to distribute data and live streaming content from 30 tournaments across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Barney Francis, Executive Vice President, Head of Global Production at IMG, said: “This is a great opportunity for us and we are delighted to be working with Channel 4 on live coverage of Super League, one of the action-packed sports of the summer.
“We are excited to be opening a new base in Leeds – right in the heartland of the rugby league world – which will enable us to tap into the production talent in the area. Going forward, we can also see a number of long-term strategic advantages for IMG to have a base in the region.”