BT's Aviva Premiership deal could bring live rugby to free-to-air
BT's multimillion-pound Premiership Rugby deal could see some matches screened on free-to-air TV, according to Leicester Tigers chairman Peter Tom.
The telecoms giant announced a surprise £152 million agreement earlier this month to broadcast live Aviva Premiership rugby union matches for four years from the 2013-14 season.
As part of the deal, BT was also controversially given the live rights to cover matches played by Aviva Premiership teams in any future European competitions for three seasons, starting from 2014-15.
Although the exact details of the European agreement are unclear, the Premiership deal has not been contested, with the Leicester chairman expressing confidence that plans to broadcast certain fixtures on free-to-air platforms "may go through".
Noting that there are now many ways to follow live sport - from smartphones and tablets to social media - Mr Tom said: "We feel that we have chosen a great partner in BT, who will be going out of their way to provide the best possible platform to show and promote the sport."
Currently, Aviva Premiership rights are split between Sky and ESPN, meaning no live matches are shown on free-to-air TV.
However, ITV broadcasts a Sunday night highlights programme that looks set to continue under the BT deal.