4 December 2021 The Irish Film & Television Network
TG4 and RTÉ partner to bring United Rugby Championship free-to-air to Irish audiences
16 Jun 2021 : News Desk
RTÉ and TG4 partner with United Rugby Championship
The public service media organisations have announced that they have secured broadcasting rights for the new United Ruby Championship (URC) ensuring it will be predominantly free-to-air for Irish audiences for the next four years.

RTÉ has secured the rights for live TV, radio, and online coverage of 26 games featuring the Irish provinces in the league, plus additional knockout matches.

TG4’s Rugbaí Beo will continue to be the station’s flagship rugby programme and will broadcast 26 games involving Irish provincial clubs and an additional 16 games featuring international club sides.

The URC final will also be delivered free-to-air with RTÉ and TG4 broadcasting it live on alternate years. 

Kicking off in September, the United Rugby Championship will bring existing PRO14 teams and South Africa’s top clubs together to form a world-class 16 team league. 

RTÉ has also announced that it is working with URC on the launch of global OTT service to make the championship available to audiences around the world. Details of the new global URC TV service will be announced later in the summer.  

Dee Forbes, RTÉ Director General said: "We are really excited to be part of the new United Rugby Championship. RTÉ is delighted to partner with URC and TG4 to ensure that the new Championship and our provinces get maximum exposure and Irish audiences enjoy the action free-to-air. It's a team effort from URC, RTÉ and TG4 and a great result for Irish rugby fans. We’re also delighted to collaborate with URC on the launch of an innovative new global OTT service to ensure fans enjoy the best URC action across the world.” 

Alan Esslemont, Director General of TG4 said: “TG4 is delighted to be partnering with RTÉ to bring the new United Rugby Championship to Irish audiences. As public service broadcasters, both organisations understand the importance and the demand from our audiences for comprehensive, innovative, and engaging sports coverage.  We’re passionate about bringing the best of sporting action to our audiences, and to making that coverage free-to-air and accessible to all fans.” 

Martin Anayi, CEO of United Rugby Championship: “Free-to-Air coverage is hugely attractive to all sports in terms of reaching the widest possible audience and in TG4 and RTÉ we have two partners who are really excited about launching the United Rugby Championship.

“Both TG4 and RTÉ have proven track records of delivering marquee international sporting events and they are both innovators in their own spaces. TG4 have added a new dimension to our games with their referee briefings from the dressing rooms and their mic’d up coaching interviews during warm-ups, which bring fans behind the scenes.

“RTÉ have experienced big sporting occasions for decades and our decision to partner with them on our OTT player – URC TV – is evidence of a broadcaster that can adapt to market demands and provide a very creative offering for rights holders. 

"We also cement the legacy of TG4’s association with us since the first days of the Celtic League and welcome back old friends at RTÉ to provide a very powerful offering to the widest audience in Ireland ahead of the first URC games in September.”

RTÉ and TG4 previously partnered in 2019 to bring the FIFA Women’s World Cup to Irish screens for the first time. 

Since TG4’s inaugural broadcast of the Celtic League in 2001, rugby has been a staple of station’s extensive sports coverage. Over the years, TG4 has been a leader in the innovation of rugby coverage with behind-the-scenes ref-briefings, warm-up interviews and audio snoops with head-coaches. 

Today’s announcement adds to recent rights acquisitions by RTÉ including the Six Nations, the Champions League and extended deals with the FAI and Horse Racing Ireland. 

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