Fresh from its successful debut as the new Irish home to Six Nations rugby, TV3 has bagged a deal with European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) to broadcast live Champions Cup rugby on a free-to-air basis. This is the first time since 2006 that Champions Cup rugby, including the former Heineken Cup, has been broadcast on a free-to-air basis.
The deal means that TV3 will broadcast one live Champions Cup match per week of the tournament from the beginning of next season (October 2018) until the Final in May 2022. he agreement includes six group stage matches followed by one Quarter-Final, one Semi-Final and the Champions Cup Final. In addition, a weekly highlights show featuring the Irish sides participating in the Champions Cup will also be broadcast every weekend of the tournament.
TV3’s Managing Director Pat Kiely said:
“We are delighted to be bringing Champions Cup rugby to TV3. This deal reflects the great momentum we now have and, as part of Virgin Media, we continue to deliver more great content and live events for our viewers and customers. We are clearly in a golden era for Irish rugby and Irish audiences can now look forward to even more action from club and country on TV3,” says TV3’s Managing Director Pat Kiely.
The deal was sealed the day before Ireland’s historic Grand Slam victory over England last weekend. Grand Slam Saturday proved to be a ratings winner for the broadcaster with 1. 328m viewers watching the Irish win at Twickenham and lift the NatWest 6 Nations Trophy. The match delivered an average audience of 951,000, making Ireland’s historic Grand Slam victory the highest rating programme on Irish television this year. A further 100,000 viewers tuned in to watch England v Ireland, live on 3player.
“Ireland’s historic Grand Slam win over England at Twickenham on Saturday was the perfect ending to TV3’s first NatWest 6 Nations tournament. It truly was a national event, and with over 1.3 million viewers tuning in during the course of the game, it is the most watched television programme this year,” says Bill Malone, Director of Programming at TV3.