Super League matches will be broadcast live on free-to-air television for the first time in the competition’s history in 2022 after it agreed an initial two-year deal with Channel 4.
Ten matches will be broadcast on the channel next year, starting with Warrington’s trip to Leeds on Saturday 12 February. The remaining nine fixtures will be announced later this week but will include two play-off matches at the end of the season.
Super League has prioritised a free-to-air TV deal as part of its new broadcast arrangement with Sky Sports, which also begins next year. With reduced income from Sky and clubs therefore receiving significantly less funding, the competition was keen to explore a secondary deal with another channel.
The competition achieved record viewing figures in 2021. The anticipation now is that with Channel 4 agreeing to show 10 games a season, those numbers will increase.
“We are delighted to be able to confirm a brand-new broadcast partnership with Channel 4,” Ken Davy, Super League’s chairman, said. “They have a great track record of showing some of the best sporting competitions.
“The opportunity to offer live Super League action to fans on a free-to-air platform across the whole season is fantastic and one that we hope will continue to serve our current fans, as well as attract many new fans to the sport.”
Super League has been synonymous with Sky since the competition launched in 1996, with the broadcaster holding exclusive rights for 25 years. That will now change, however.
“I must thank our principal broadcast partner, Sky Sports, without whose support this partnership would not have been possible,” Davy said. Super League officials are already optimistic that the arrangement with Channel 4 will run beyond its initial two-year term, with the competition keen to command a regular place on free-to-air TV.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be bringing Super League to free-to-air television for the first time in its history,” Peter Andrews, Channel 4’s head of sport, said. “It’s fantastic news for rugby league fans and it’s a really special addition to Channel 4’s sports portfolio, particularly since it’s one of our first major partnerships since moving to our new national HQ building at the Majestic in Leeds.”
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