Video refs to be at ALL Super League matches after new Sky TV deal announced
SUPER League will have video referees at every match next season after sticking with Sky Sports.
A new two-year broadcast deal has been struck, albeit for what is believed to be a vastly reduced fee.
However, SunSport can reveal increased coverage of games means each of the six matches a week will have video referees, rather than just the televised ones.
That will eliminate claims live games are played to a different set of rules and some tries that are not given would be if they were not on TV.
And fans will be able to see matches on free-to-air channels THIS season, maybe even on YouTube.
A new contract for 2022 and 2023 was agreed for the top flight, but at a rate at least 25 per cent down on the current agreement.
While the exact figure was not revealed, it is believed £30 million a year, down from the current £40 million, is the best they can hope for.
Yet after interest from BT Sport and early signs Channel 4, which has moved to Leeds, and Channel 5 may come in, it is staying put.
Next year will see six cameras at every game next season, even ones that are not showed live, meaning on-screen officials will be at each game and replays can be showed on stadiums’ big screens.
The new contract, for 66 exclusive live games a season, extends Super League’s partnership with Sky to 28 years.
There is also the chance of of matches being broadcast on the BBC, although it is understood nothing has yet been agreed and talks are said to be ongoing with multiple broadcasters.
And they may also carry French channel beIN Sports’ pictures of Catalans home matches, if their contract goes on beyond this season.
Some games will also be broadcast either online or on Sky’s free channels, Sky Sports Mix or Pick, or YouTube in 2021.
The possibility of a secondary deal, which is being discussed with multiple broadcasters, was kept alive with the line: “The new agreement will see Sky Sports have the first pick of games in each of the regular season rounds as well as first pick in each of the Play-Off weeks.”
Super League’s interim executive chairman Ken Davy, who replaced departed Robert Elstone, said: “On the announcement Super League executive chairman, Ken Davy said “It’s great to be able to extend our excellent partnership.
“Sky have been with us from the start of the competition, back in 1996, and are now an integral part of the Super League family.
“We've worked closely throughout the current pandemic and every step of the way Sky have been immensely supportive.
“Super League looks forward to working with Sky Sports on the exciting free-to-air opportunity, growing our audience and allowing more fans than ever before to see our great game.”
The end sum is up from the initial offer but will still see no money handed over to Championship clubs, whose matches are no longer part of the deal.
They are in talks over an agreement of their own but fans face having to pay £10 a month on top of their Sky contract if rights are awarded to Premier Sports.
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