Aviva Premiership Rugby will become the first club rugby union tournament to air on national television in China after a four-year contract agreed by Premiership Rugby’s media rights agency RDA and the Chinese free-to-air sports broadcaster CCTV5+.
Starting with Leicester Tigers v Saracens on Sunday December 24, this ground-breaking agreement takes the global distribution of the top flight of English rugby to almost 600 million households worldwide.
In partnership with Beijing Elite Rugby, who will produce Mandarin commentary for live matches and the weekly highlights show, CCTV5+ will broadcast at least 25 Aviva Premiership Rugby matches per season plus the semi-final and final on national television in China.
Prior to this announcement, the 2015 Rugby World Cup was the only rugby union tournament to have aired in China.
This agreement is one of several significant television deals and initiatives that have been announced since RDA and Altice/SFR Sport acquired Premiership Rugby’s global media rights in a five-year deal from 2016-17 onwards.
Global broadcasters of Aviva Premiership Rugby, the world’s leading club rugby union competition, include Fox Sports in Australia, NBC Sports in USA, SFR Sport in France, SuperSport in South Africa, Kwese Sports in sub-Saharan Africa, Sky in New Zealand, Rogers in Canada and Fox Sports in Netherlands.
Dominic Hayes, commercial director at Premiership Rugby, said: “This is a very significant day in the history of Premiership Rugby.
"Launching on free to air TV in China is part of our strategic goal of increasing the global impact of Premiership Rugby and helping to grow the game in new countries around the world. CCTV5+ reaches 400 million households and this will lead to a huge increase in rugby’s exposure, in a new and very exciting market.
“Today’s news is the culmination of a great deal of hard work and is further testament to RDA’s commitment to delivering unparalleled global distribution for our property.”
RDA’s CEO Richard Dennis said: “RDA is proud to bring Premiership Rugby to national television in China. Our mission is to bring transformational change to Premiership Rugby’s global broadcast footprint, and working with CCTV5+ is a key component of that mission.”
Jacob Taylor, Beijing Elite Rugby’s international director, said: “This is a breakthrough agreement for rugby in China. World-class rugby union will now be available free-to-air in millions of Chinese households on a weekly basis.
“Beijing Elite Rugby is very excited to be working with RDA to bring Premiership Rugby to CCTV5+, as part of our commitment to growing the culture of rugby in China from the ground-up.”