By Claire West
In what is being heralded as a ground-breaking move for the club rugby game in England, BT will have the exclusive live broadcast rights for four years to show Aviva Premiership Rugby and the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Sevens from the 2013-14season.
BT will also have exclusive live broadcast rights to matches played by Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs in any future European competitions from 2014-15 for three years.
Live Aviva Premiership matches are currently split between BSkyB and ESPN so the new deal means that from next season, rugby fans will be able to catch all of the excitement of the Aviva Premiership in one place with the bonus of additional live coverage from future European competitions from 2014.
"This is a game-changing agreement and will deliver a service that I know our club supporters will enjoy," said Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive of Premiership Rugby, the umbrella organisation of the Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs.
"We are delighted to have concluded our discussions with such an ambitious partner that will help bring Premiership Rugby to new audiences.
"BT is a company at the cutting edge of technology and that is one of the reasons it makes them such an exciting broadcast partner for Premiership Rugby.
"We will develop a broad partnership. As well as showing the live games, BT will assist us in further upgrading the technical infrastructure of our clubs' stadia and by building Community programmes with us."
Marc Watson, BT Vision CEO added: "BT is delighted to have secured this deal. Rugby Union is entering a thrilling phase with the World Cup being staged here in 2015 and rugby returning to the Olympics in 2016. We plan to bring the excitement of the very best matches to as wide an audience as possible. We will also be bringing all of the action together in one place and will look to distribute it on a variety of platforms."
"BT is serious about sport and this deal means we will be offering the very best rugby action alongside some of the most thrilling football matches from the Premier League. That is a winning combination and one that will appeal to fans of both sports."
The agreement, which is worth up to £152m, covers:
• Exclusive live broadcast rights to up to 69 matches per season from Aviva Premiership Rugby for four years starting from the 2013-14 season.
• Exclusive live broadcast rights to matches from the entire J.P. Morgan Asset Management Sevens Series for four years starting from the 2013-14 season.
• Exclusive live broadcast rights to matches of Aviva Premiership teams in any future European competitions for three years starting from the 2014-15 season.