COLUMN: Yet more fuss over the Championship and it’s non TV deal

It seems ironic that after years of complaining about no TV coverage for the Championship, we now have complaints about it happening.

But Leigh owner Derek Beaumont is right to raise questions over why Toronto Wolfpack have apparently been allowed to negotiate a deal with Premier Sports to televise all their games in 2018 without their knowledge.

The controversy began after Beaumont’s tweet below following an advert promoting Premier Sports’ coverage of the Wolfpack’s games in 2018.

Premier Sports irked rugby league fans during the World Cup by pulling arguably the game of the group stage, between New Zealand and Samoa, at the eleventh hour, instead opting to show New Zealand’s World Cup football qualifier against Peru live, and showing the Kiwis “as live” later on in the day.

They appear to have lost the rights for the NRL for the new season, though nothing has been confirmed – with some sort of live streaming facility run by the NRL set to be the likely method for UK fans to watch games from Down Under in 2018.

Of course, last season Premier Sports televised all of Toronto’s games in League 1, enabling their fans to watch games played in the UK and also allowing UK-based fans to watch the games live (or as live in some cases) over in Canada.

The issue here isn’t the fact that Toronto games are being televised – it is again the lack of transparency and communication which makes rugby league look unprofessional, especially when you consider the competition is yet to replace Kingstone Press as its title sponsor.

Assuming there are no surprises from Sky Sports regarding coverage of the Championship in 2018, this will now be the fourth consecutive season there has been no regular live televised games from the division.

Sky Sports did used to show a weekly game on a Thursday night, before first losing the rights to Premier Sports and then moving Super League action to that slot.

Token coverage of the Summer Bash is offered, but the weekly exposure for the Championship has diminished considerably over the past decade, harming its clubs.

While there is an argument that says coverage of Toronto’s games on Premier Sports is good exposure, it is surely not extensive on Premier, and clearly not beneficial for everyone in the division.

Sky Sports should be made to either show regular Championship games or relinquish the rights to others – particularly now given that online streaming is so prevalent; we at Love Rugby League would even live stream games if allowed.

Frustratingly, it is another albeit minor embarrassment when it comes to communication and coverage – both crucial when it comes to attracting commercial revenue. A lot of minor issues have built up over the years that now mean each occurrence feels pretty major.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out – here’s hoping the final solution is a weekly Championship live game on TV or even streamed online; we can but dream.

4 Comments

  1. The RFL couldn’t do a worse job if they were paid agents of the RFU. How difficult can it be? No doubt we can look forward to the usual lack of clarity on who will compete for the 2019 WCC should neither Wigan Saints or Leeds qualify by right, God forbid Hull FC win anything again as they seem to be viewed as pariahs for those matches usually. I’m a Rovers fan and think they get the wrong end of these arrangements. How many mid season rule changes will we get this season? it’s almost worth asking a bookie for the odds.

    • I’m a Rovers fan also, not really bothered about silverware, just staying up will do! When I cancelled my Sky sports sub lat year because Sky were televising none of their games their agent said “You’ll still be getting motor racing and golf”, what a twit! My Aussie cousin tells me Sky televise all our Super league and many of our Championship games as well as the football Premiership & championship, at a fraction of the cost we pay. Although promoted, I would like to see R L championship games shown also, even if only highlights, same as football. On their day they are as good as any to watch.

  2. The RFL have no idea how to promote the game as a whole not just Super League
    Try and find what friendly games are being played or the results. They don’t even list them on their own website.
    Best news for the game is that Wood is stepping down. Hope they get someone who can run the game instead of running it down as is the norm from the RFL.

  3. Just cancelled my premier sports.they seem sixes/sevens at the moment.it must have been 3omins.to get thru,I couldn’t make head or tail of what they where rabbit ting on about.finally succeeded.thank god I won’t be dealing with them again.also the televising of the match in n/Zealand was the last straw.

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