Home unions battle for FTA Six Nations in £300 million CVC deal

Private equity firm CVC’s £300 million deal to acquire a 15% stake in Rugby Union’s Six Nations is being held up over broadcast rights.

According to the Guardian, England, Scotland and Wales are insisting that the competition remains on free-to-air TV,  while CVC wants full control of the commercial arm of the Six Nations – which includes the rights to arrange the next broadcasting deal.

The firm has been in exclusive talks with the tournaments’ organisers since September and it is believed that this is the only hurdle stopping a deal from being signed.

It had previously been reported that pubcasters the BBC and ITV were poised to retain the competition, but CVC is seeking a contract improved from the combined £90 million paid previously by the broadcasters.

CVC reportedly believes that signing a deal with a pay TV broadcaster is the only way it can see a significant return on investment.

The British government has listed the Six Nations in Group B of its listed sporting events for broadcasting. This guarantees free-to-air broadcasters secondary rights, but the unions of the countries want it upgraded to Group A in order to put the tournament out of the reach of pay TV broadcasters.

Six Nations CEO Benjamin Morel told the paper: “I would expect that we will reach a decision within a matter of weeks rather than months. The talks have been constructive but negotiations like this take time because there are a number of complicated issues to deal with. We are always looking at ways of attracting investment, but it is important that we retain control.”

CVC also holds the rights to club tournaments the Premiership and the Pro14 and wants to aggregate these with the Six Nations along with the November internationals to create a bundled rights package from the 2022 season.

The 2020 iteration of the competition is currently ongoing, and kicked off with England’s defeat to France, which drew an average of 5.9 million viewers on BBC One and 5.7 million viewers on France Télévisions’ France 2.

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