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Mon 19 Aug 2019 08:59 AM

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Rugby Championship looking at 'short-term fix' for Middle East viewers

Organisers are negotiating new broadcast contracts after tournament was dropped by OSN

Rugby Championship looking at 'short-term fix' for Middle East viewers
Rugby coverage has been a huge casualty after OSN decided to drop all of its sports content earlier this year.

Middle East fans of the Rugby Championship face the possibility of another broadcast blackout for the 2020 tournament.

OSN previously had the rights for the competition, which sees the giants of the Southern Hemisphere – Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - square off against one another.

However, the Rugby Championship was one of the many casualties when the pay-tv network suddenly dropped all of its sports coverage earlier this year.

That meant there was no local broadcaster showing the action, which included a famous 47-26 victory for Australia over New Zealand and, ultimately, South Africa securing the silverware for the first time since 2009 (when it was still known as the Tri-Nations).

A spokesperson for competition organisers SANZAR, told Arabian Business: “We are looking at finding a new broadcaster. This is not easy in the present market. Also we are in the middle of negotiating new broadcast contracts for 2021-2026 which will include delivery to the Middle East. Next year is a short term fix we are looking at.”

Meanwhile, there is still no update about whether a broadcaster has been found for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, with just 31 days to go before the opener between hosts Japan and Russia.

Dominic Young, media sales executive at World Rugby, told Arabian Business last month: “We are currently in discussions with the market and when these are concluded I will be able to confirm the broadcast partner.

“For any match that is not broadcast by our broadcast partner these will be available to view via World Rugby’s platforms.”

OSN’s final sports broadcast came at the conclusion of the recent Cricket World Cup in England.

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online