BT could offer some free-to-air Premiership games as part of new 152m TV deal
16:39 GMT, 27 September 2012
Premiership Rugby's 152million television deal could include free-to-air games, Leicester chairman Peter Tom has revealed.
BT Vision are due to start screening
Aviva Premiership games on a four-year deal from next September,
replacing the league's current broadcasters Sky and ESPN.
The contract also includes a controversial three-year arrangement for live European matches involving English clubs.
Big draw: BT have agreed deal for domestic and European games
European Rugby Cup, who oversee the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cup tournaments, recently announced a four-year extension with broadcaster BSkyB.
Further discussions between ERC stakeholders are scheduled to take place in Rome on October 8, but Premiership Rugby's domestic broadcasting arrangements are far more straightforward.
More than one million people each week currently watch ITV's Sunday evening Premiership highlights show, and that arrangement is set to continue under the BT deal.
'BT have come into this with their eyes wide open,' Tom told the Leicester Mercury. '
'And for Premiership Rugby, this deal is a ringing endorsement of our product with proposals that are very sensible across the board.
'There are proposals for some free-to-air rugby, and you suspect that may go through.
'With all of the different ways to view sport these days on phones and tablets and various social media, 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.'
A Premiership Rugby spokesman said that any suggestion of free-to-air matches was 'subject to further discussion'.
'Over a million people each week see Premiership Rugby on free TV with our Sunday evening highlights show on ITV,' the spokesman said.
'And as part of our agreement with BT we have retained the rights for this to continue.
'Any suggestion that games will appear on free-to-air TV is subject to further discussion.
'The 152million deal with BT is great news for the whole of European rugby.
'There are many exciting elements to it, some of which haven't been confirmed yet because of the nature of commercial negotiations, but these include an exciting new community programme, a marketing campaign for rugby and an infrastructure upgrade of all 12 Aviva Premiership rugby clubs.'