After showing the Rugby World Cup in September and October, TV3 have just announced they will be adding to their rugby coverage from 2018 as they have secured the rights to air the Six Nations tournament from then until 2021, when the rights will be up for tender again.
Coverage of the 6 Nations tournament averages at 400,000 viewers per game, and TV3 discovered for themselves how popular the sport is, with record viewing figures for Ireland's world cup games.
In a statement given today Niall Cogley, TV3 Group Director of Broadcasting, said “In the last two months, TV3 has been able to demonstrate its credentials as Ireland’s National Commercial Broadcaster with a refreshing and comprehensive presentation of all 48 games of Rugby World Cup 2015. We are grateful that the Six Nations Unions, the Federations and their Executive team were sufficiently impressed by our recent work. We very much look forward to presenting Rugby’s Greatest Championship into the foreseeable future and making TV3 the home of rugby in Ireland.”
There is no confirmation as yet on who will be involved in the new Six Nations commentary team, but ex-players Keith Wood and Shane Jennings served as pundits for TV3 during the Rugby World Cup. They'll have plenty of time to finalise the line-up as RTE will continue to broadcast the tournament for 2016 and 2017, as Ireland bid to win a third championship in a row.
RTE have released a statement; "This is extremely disappointing news for RTÉ. We have a long and proud tradition of showcasing the 6 Nations and putting our heart and soul into our coverage.
"We want to assure the Irish public that every possible effort was made by RTÉ to retain these rights. As a public service broadcaster, RTÉ’s ambition has always been, and continues to be, to deliver the best possible viewer experience and to share moments of major national importance.
"We put forward the best possible bid within our means, while always mindful of the significant responsibilities attached to spending public funds.
"We have a phenomenal year ahead in 2016, with the GAA Championships, the Olympic Games and Euro 2016. We also look forward to delivering the 6 Nations Championship in 2016 and 2017.
"Along with the range of Sports we have already secured and are delivering, we will look to other opportunities in Irish and international sports and remain committed to delivering a comprehensive portfolio of Sport to the Irish public."