Super League rights situation – Barry Rogers on concern over Sky/BT switch

SIX OF THE BEST: Barry Rogers’ reaction to the Commission’s criticism.

SIX OF THE BEST: Barry Rogers’ reaction to the Commission’s criticism.

The television rights to Super League and Challenge Cup football matches is the most valuable sports broadcasting deal in the UK. And it’s also the most controversial.

The three main providers are, BSkyB, BT and ITV. And they’ve been in a vicious dispute with Super League about whether the latter can take on the two existing providers and buy the rights for 2019 and 2020.

Now, BT has confirmed they want to sell the digital rights, creating a threat to BSkyB and BT’s multi-billion-pound sports content deals.

And that in turn has unsettled Super League. Barry Rogers, president of Super League, told the BBC’s Sportsday, “That’s regrettable news. We hope that they won’t do that. It is an option that Sky could put a tinge of anxiety into the bargaining. We’ve still got a long way to go.”

However, unlike many other national sporting competitions, including British rugby union, Super League has signed an exclusive deal with Sky for the 20 Super League clubs, who therefore are protected by TV rights until 2021.

And Rogers says, for the moment, BT can’t source any other rights. “There’s no scope for [us to bid on the digital rights]. They’ve got what’s secure there,” he explained.

Asked if that makes the digital rights part of the switch from Sky to BT difficult to fit into the talks, Rogers conceded “that would be the traditional way of thinking of it, but we’ve got other ways of providing digital services.”

And, despite the hostility between the sides, Rogers insists they’re still keen to talk to the regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will take charge of the digital rights negotiations from 2019.

“I understand that they’re putting their findings into a report, which will be presented in 2020 and said how they propose to tackle sports rights,” Rogers said.

“All we’ve got to do is try and work with them. We know that our stakeholders, as well as our fans, are of course very anxious to see us get the digital rights and getting a proper allocation out of that will be key for us to get all that money in, because we know that this is the linchpin of our finances.”

Leave a Comment