Channel 4, the British broadcaster has won the rights to broadcast Ireland’s Guinness Series of November rugby internationals in the UK for the next four years.
RTÉ signed a three-year deal to retain coverage in Ireland at the end of last year. Channel 4’s deal replaces that which Sky Sports had held in recent years.
The highlight of this year’s games will be the return of World Champions the All Blacks. Ireland will also face Argentina and the USA.
12 months ago Channel 4 had no presence in Rugby but they were the successful bidders to show UK free to air coverage of nine games in the Heineken Champions Cup from this season, rights which were won in Ireland by Virgin Media. They also won rights to broadcast Wales summer internationals where they had Eddie Butler, Lee McKenzie and Sam Warburton on the roster of presenters.
No announcement of a presentation team for the Ireland games has yet been made but with RTÉ, Virgin Media and eir Sport all active in the Rugby rights market there will be room for some new or maybe even some returning faces and voices.
“Rugby fans can look forward to a match-up between the number one and number two teams in the world, Ireland and New Zealand, on Saturday, November 17,” said Joe Blake-Turner, Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for Sport.
“And looking beyond 2018, Ireland have some fantastic Test matches lined up against the might of the southern Hemisphere, including Australia and South Africa. We’re absolutely delighted to be able to follow the journey of Europe’s finest team as they take on the world’s best.”
“The IRFU are delighted to welcome Channel 4 who have a fantastic track-record of sports broadcasting,” added Padraig Power, IRFU Commercial & Marketing Director.
“They join us at an exciting time and we have no doubt that our partnership with them will cover some outstanding rugby moments.”
The four-year deal with Channel 4 includes coverage of two of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup warm-up matches in 2019 against Italy and Wales, 2020 autumn internationals against Australia, South Africa and another team to be announced, and Ireland’s autumn internationals in 2021 against the All Blacks, Argentina and another country yet to be confirmed.