MUSTER matches will be free to watch in Ireland in the revamped United Rugby Championship from next season.
A four-year broadcast deal with RTÉ and TG4 has been agreed to share rights to 52 of the 60 Irish fixtures every season, the first time this competition is on RTÉ since 2014.
The United Rugby Championship kicks off in September, replacing the Guinness Pro14, with four of South Africa’s elite teams now involved and a new regionalised format. The competition will be used to decide qualification for the European Cup.
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, while TG4’s Rugbaí Beo will broadcast 26 URC games live.
The Grand Final will also be free to air on RTÉ and TG4 on alternate years. TG4 also have the rights to 16 non-Irish fixtures.
RTÉ is working with URC on the launch of Global OTT service to make the championship available to audiences around the world.
Cork's 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.”
Director-General of TG4 Alan Esslemont said: “TG4 is delighted to have agreed the broadcasting rights to this new and exciting rugby competition. We look forward to delivering world class rugby to Irish audiences over the next four seasons.
"Rugbaí Beo has become part of the essential fabric of the station’s sports offering, and as an independent public service broadcaster, we’re proud to continue our commitment to bringing all this action to the sports fans of Ireland, free-to-air on TG4.”