The BBC has agreed a deal with the Rugby Super League to broadcast up to 12 games per-season as part of a new TV package deal.
The Super League deal will span across three years as the BBC will broadcast free-to-air fixtures on weekends, alongside the league’s primary broadcaster Sky Sports, which inked its own three-year deal last October.
According to the Daily Mail, BBC fended off interest from Channel 4 in acquiring Betfred Super League rights to broadcast live games. This will mark the first time the British broadcaster will showcase Rugby League fixtures since the 1990s.
BBC Two will broadcast 12 matches per-year as part of the package deal once the season begins with its opening contest on 15 February between Hull FC and Hull KR.
Furthermore, matches will also be made available on the BBC iPlayer as well as two play-off games and the Wigan vs Penrith Panthers match on 24 February in the World Club Challenge.
The Rugby Football League will hope that BBC’s free-to-air coverage will garner more viewers for the sport, alongside Sky Sports’ offering.
An exclusive three-year deal was made between Sky Sports and the Super League to broadcast all 170 league fixtures for the next three seasons, and all six games each weekend.
That deal also meant that RL Commercial was able to retain its ability to offer free-to-air broadcast deals. Channel 4 had initially held this TV package, broadcasting 10 games per season, but were ultimately unable to retain the rights, losing out to the BBC.
Now agreeing a broadcast deal for Super League fixtures, the BBC is reportedly working on extending its live rights deal for Challenge Cup up until 2026, as its current deal expires towards the end of this year.