BBC Sport and Premier Sports will share the rights to broadcast live coverage of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup to be held this Autumn across England and Wales.
The BBC will screen extensive free-to-air television coverage of the 2013 tournament, including live games and regular highlights. The corporation has also secured the rights to the 2017 World Cup (host TBC), plus TV coverage of the 2014 and 2016 Four Nations tournaments.
Subscription channel Premier Sports will screen all 28 games live from the 2013 tournament, which kicks off on Saturday, October 26 and represents the biggest international sporting event taking place in the UK during 2013.
Demonstrating the BBC’s continued commitment to the sport, the new broadcast deal, neogtiated with IMG, now cements the corporation as the home of live England rugby league internationals from Rugby League World Cup 2013 and onwards.
The BBC will bring live coverage of all England games to television and radio, starting with the Opening Ceremony which features arguably the biggest game in international Rugby League in England versus Australia.
There will then be live coverage of England’s other two Group A games against Ireland and Fiji, as well as a quarter-final, semi-final showdown at Wembley and the Rugby League World Cup Final at Old Trafford on Saturday, November 30.
In addition to the live action, there will be regular TV highlights programmes throughout the tournament incorporating action from matches not shown live, plus extensive coverage on Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website.
Premier Sports, currently operating exclusively on Sky channel 428 in the UK, will be a major broadcast partner to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup with live coverage of every game.
A minimum of nine of the matches will be completely exclusive to the channel, including all of New Zealand and Australia’s group stage games (excluding Australia v England), plus the three quarter-finals and one semi-final.
Premier Sports will also offer in-depth simulcast coverage of every England game being shown on the BBC along with live coverage of another 13 games.
Commenting on the deal which guarantees free-to-air coverage of the next two Rugby League World Cups, Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, said: “It’s very exciting to cap our Rugby League portfolio with the top international tournaments, enabling us to offer audiences the pinnacle events of the sport each year.
“These add to our already comprehensive coverage, which gives the full narrative of the season.
“This is a great opportunity to bring Rugby League to a wide audience and showcase the best players in the world through the BBC’s multi-platform coverage.
“These events join an impressive BBC Sport international portfolio that includes the 2014 Winter Olympics from Russia, the Football World Cup and Olympics in Rio in 2016 and the World Athletics Championships from 2013 to 2017.”
The 2013 Rugby League World Cup is the most high-profile sporting event that Premier Sports has secured the rights to since it began broadcasting in 2010.
Primarily home to niche sporting events such as Conference football, RFL Championship rugby league, Top 14 rugby union and NASCAR, the subscription channel is also hopeful of concluding carriage deals with BT and Virgin Media to expand its availability to a wider audience.
Richard Sweeney, CEO of Premier Sports commented: “This is terrific news to be able to further develop our commitment and involvement in Rugby League.
“RLWC 2013 coverage means Premier Sports will be broadcasting over 250 Rugby League games in 2013 and makes us a must have Rugby League home for fans in the UK now and for the foreseeable future.”
Richard Webb, COO of Premier Sports commented: “We have been building our Rugby League portfolio gradually with great backing from viewers and partners who love the game as much as we do.
“People who follow the ‘greatest game’ will know we have put a lot of thought and effort into covering matches from the Championships in a way that best represents the real heart of the game and they can expect more of the same come October.”
The mixture of coverage on both free-to-air and subscription services will please the majority of rugby league fans as the sport’s biggest international competition comes to British shores this Autumn.
The last Rugby League World Cup held in Australia back in 2008 was screened exclusively live on Sky Sports with highlights on BBC TV, while previous editions of the tournament were broadcast live on the BBC.
The Guardian’s Andy Wilson reports that Sky declined the opportunity to act as host broadcaster for the 2013 World Cup after its initial bid to claim the broadcast rights to the tournament was rejected.
The deal is a significant coup for both the BBC and Premier Sports and represents a loosening of the grip that Sky have held over televised rugby league for the last two decades.
Commenting on the BBC/Premier Sports deal, RLWC 2013 tournament director Nigel Wood said: “This is great news for RLWC 2013 and especially great news for the fans.
“The BBC is arguably the number one terrestrial sports broadcaster in the world. Their incredible coverage of the London Olympics further enhanced their reputation and so for them to cover the next international sporting event in the UK is a great fit for them and for us.
“We’re delighted fans will be able to watch the showpiece events live on terrestrial TV. The BBC will help RLWC2013 bring new audiences to our amazing sport and will enable our established fan base to immerse themselves in five weeks of fantastic, world class sport.
“Premier Sports do a great job for Rugby League showing Kingstone Press Championship, every NRL game and the State of Origin matches.
“Die hard Rugby League fans can watch every minute of every game at the tournament and potential new fans can get a real flavour of the top sporting event of 2013 on a truly dedicated Rugby League channel.
“We also look forward to other platforms recognising that Premier Sports and its wall-to-wall Rugby League coverage should be made accessible to the widest possible potential audience.”
Rugby League World Cup 2013 kicks off on Saturday October 26 2013 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, with matches played in England, Wales, Ireland and France.
The competition’s structure will consist of two groups of four and two groups of three.
England are drawn alongside arch-rivals Australia as well as Fiji and Ireland in Group A; Rugby League World Cup holders New Zealand will face Pacific Island rivals Papua New Guinea and Samoa along with France in Group B.
Scotland will face Tonga and Italy in Group C and joint hosts Wales have been drawn against the Cook Islands and the USA in Group D.
Away from its newly acquired World Cup deal, the BBC’s current Rugby League offering on TV includes the weekly Super League Show, live Challenge Cup action from the fourth round onwards and Super League play-off highlights.
BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live Sports Extra has regular live radio commentary throughout the season of Super League and Challenge Cup (from fourth round), plus there is commentary on BBC Local Radio from the Super League, Championship and Championship One.
Premier Sports has exclusive TV and online subscription rights to coverage of every game from every round of the NRL and State of Origin for the next five years along with continued weekly coverage from the Kingstone Press Championships in England.
Sky viewers can watch live coverage of all events across all three competitions on channel 428, with live and on-demand coverage also available on the new Premier Player online.
Full TV schedule to be confirmed Saturday 26th October Australia v England – Group A Kick-off: 14:30 | Millennium Stadium, Cardiff LIVE: BBC TV / Premier Sports Wales v Italy – Group C/D Kick-off: 16:30 | Millennium Stadium, Cardiff LIVE: Premier Sports Sunday 27th October Papua New Guinea v France – Group B Kick-off: 16:00 | MS3 Craven Park, Hull LIVE: Premier Sports New Zealand v Samoa – Group B Kick-off: 18:00 | Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington LIVE & EXCLUSIVE: Premier Sports Monday 28th October Fiji v Ireland – Group A Kick-off: 20:00 | Spotland Stadium, Rochdale LIVE: Premier Sports Tuesday 29th October Tonga v Scotland – Group C Kick-off: 20:00 | Derwent Park, Workington LIVE: Premier Sports Wednesday 30th October United States v Cook Islands – Group D Kick-off: 20:00 | Memorial Stadium, Bristol LIVE: Premier Sports Friday 1st November New Zealand v France – Group B Kick-off: 19:00 | Parc Des Sports, Avignon LIVE & EXCLUSIVE: Premier Sports Saturday 2nd November England v Ireland – Group A Kick-off: 14:30 | John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield LIVE: BBC TV / Premier Sports Australia v Fiji – Group A Kick-off: 20:00 | Langtree Park, St Helens LIVE & EXCLUSIVE: Premier Sports Sunday 3rd November Wales v United States – Group D Kick-off: 14:00 | Racecourse Ground, Wrexham LIVE: Premier Sports Scotland v Italy – Group C Kick-off: 16:00 | Derwent Park, Workington LIVE: Premier Sports Monday 4th November Papua New Guinea v Samoa – Group B Kick-off: 20:00 | MS3 Craven Park, Hull LIVE: Premier Sports Tuesday 5th November Tonga v Cook Islands – Group C/D Kick-off: 20:00 | Leigh Sports Village, Leigh LIVE: Premier Sports Thursday 7th November Scotland v United States – Group C/D Kick-off: 20:00 | Salford City Stadium, Salford LIVE: Premier Sports Friday 8th November New Zealand v Papua New Guinea – Group B Kick-off: 20:00 | Headingley Carnegie, Leeds LIVE & EXCLUSIVE: Premier Sports Saturday 9th November England v Fiji – Group A Kick-off: 14:30 | KC Stadium, Hull LIVE: BBC TV / Premier Sports Australia v Ireland – Group A Kick-off: 20:00 | Thomond Park, Limerick LIVE & EXCLUSIVE: Premier Sports Sunday 10th November Wales v Cook Islands – Group D Kick-off: 14:00 | The Gnoll, Neath LIVE: Premier Sports Tonga v Italy – Group C Kick-off: 16:00 | The Shay, Halifax LIVE: Premier Sports Monday 11th November France v Samoa – Group B Kick-off: 19:00 | Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan LIVE: Premier Sports Friday 15th November Winner Group B v Winner Group C – Quarter Final 1 Kick-off: 20:00 | Headingley Carnegie, Leeds LIVE & EXCLUSIVE: Premier Sports Saturday 16th November Winner Group A v Winner Group D – Quarter Final 2 Kick-off: 13:00 | Racecourse Ground, Wrexham LIVE & EXCLUSIVE: Premier Sports Runner-up Group A v 3rd Place Group B – Quarter Final 3 Kick-off: 20:00 | DW Stadium, Wigan LIVE: BBC TV (tbc) / Premier Sports Sunday 17th November Runner-up Group B v 3rd Place Group A – Quarter Final 4 Kick-off: 15:00 | Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington LIVE & EXCLUSIVE: Premier Sports Saturday 23rd November Winner QF2 v Winner QF4 – Semi Final 1 Kick-off: 13:00 | Wembley Stadium, London LIVE & EXCLUSIVE: Premier Sports Winner QF1 v Winner QF3 – Semi Final 2 Kick-off: 15:30 | Wembley Stadium, London LIVE: BBC TV / Premier Sports Saturday 30th November Rugby League World Cup Final 2013 Kick-off: 14:30 | Old Trafford, Manchester LIVE: BBC One / Premier Sports Visit the official RLWC 2013 website – RLWC2013.com …