RTÉ agrees sub-licensing deal with Eir for rugby world cup
Some 14 matches in 2019 tournament will be available free-to-air
Ireland’s Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale embrace after the game against New Zealand at the Aviva on Saturday. Photograph: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
RTÉ has agreed a sub-licensing deal with Eir Sport for the rights to 14 live matches in next year’s Rugby World Cup. They include all of Ireland’s games, all knockout stage matches and the final, as well as 16 nights of highlights.
Eir Sport, the primary rights holder, will broadcast all 48 games in the tournament live, as well as a daily highlights show. The tournament takes place in Japan from September to early November 2019.
The matches and highlights to which RTÉ has the rights will also be available on RTÉ Player.
Under Department of Communications regulations, Ireland’s games in the tournament must be available free-to-air, which means Eir was always likely to sub-license them.
Declan McBennett, group head of RTÉ Sport, said the deal ensured Irish audiences had “a free-to-air front row seat” to significant games.
Eir Sport managing director Susan Brady said Eir was “delighted to have come to this agreement with RTÉ” and that the deal “shows the changing nature of the sports broadcasting landscape in Ireland”.
“There has never been such an exciting time in Irish rugby and, following the recent win against the All Blacks, we’re heading to Japan with a real chance of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy,” she said.
Telecoms group Eir won the rights to the tournament back in 2016, as part of a bid to boost the appeal of its broadband packages, which include the seven-channel Eir Sport pack.
The pack is also available through Sky’s and Vodafone’s pay-TV television platforms for an additional charge, but not through Virgin Media as a result of a dispute between Virgin and Eir.
Television rights to the last Rugby World Cup in 2015 were held by Virgin Media Television, which was then known as TV3 Group. Ireland’s match against France in the tournament remains the most-watched programme on TV3 / Virgin Media One to date.
Last year, Eir Sport broadcast the Women’s Rugby World Cup, which it acquired as part of its rights-winning bid for the men’s event, while it also broadcasts every game from the Guinness Pro 14 and European Champions Cup tournaments.