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WRU boss defends Amazon TV deal that took live coverage away from S4C

20 Oct 2021 3 minute read
Wales v Australia at the Rugby World Cup 2019. Picture by David Roberts (CC BY 2.0).

The boss of the Welsh Rugby Union has defended the TV deal that took live coverage of Wales’ autumn internationals away from S4C.

Chief Executive Steve Phillips was responding to questions from Senedd members matches being moved off free-to-air television and on to the paywall streaming service Amazon Prime Video.

Wales’ games in the  last autumn’s Nations Cup series were also shown live by S4C after Amazon won the TV rights for ,

However, the tech giant is preventing S4C from broadcasting them live this time around, with the Welsh language broadcaster only transmitting highlights an hour after the final whistle.

Amazon has decided to offer its own Welsh language commentary in order to ensure that audiences in Wales pay to tune into their own service.

In an appearance in front of the Senedd’s Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport and International Relations Committee, Phillips said: “There are two points here and there is a lot of commentary about it.

“There is the issue about the Welsh language and there is a different conversation, then, about free-to-air and pay TV. They are two separate questions.”

On the Amazon deal, he said: “It’s worth understanding that all international media rights are now sold as a collective via the Six Nations. So Wales don’t do it as a standalone item.

“While I can’t go into too much detail because of commercial considerations, we didn’t really have a comparable free-to-air offer.

“In Wales, rugby is absolutely part of our DNA and we are very conscious of the sport having to be accessible to all.

“The flip side of that is we are in a professional sport and, whether we like it or not, professional sport does get very expensive.

“The real point here is the way sport is going, it needs to be a mix of free-to-air and pay TV.”

‘Welsh language provision’ 

He added: “But we make it very clear to all our Six Nations partners and all our broadcasters that we require a Welsh language provision.

“We are very passionate about the Welsh language and it was a non-negotiable for us.

“If people are not doing the Welsh language, we are not signing up to the deal.

“We are very pleased that Amazon are taking that obligation on board by making a significant investment in creating a Welsh language channel so the matches will be broadcast in Welsh.

“I know S4C were in conversations with Amazon about how they could work together and they have ended up with an extended highlights package after the match, which I think is fine.

“We are very tight with S4C and they are great partners of ours.

“They have got an extended involvement in the United Rugby Championship and we work very closely with them. There is always going to be a place for S4C.”

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Grayham Jones
2 years ago

Watching rugby 🏉 in on 📺 TV should be Free and on welsh 📺 TV in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Phil Jones
Phil Jones
2 years ago

Why should it be free? I pay to watch my region and my country, I don’t expect to get in for nothing so why should armchair fans get it gratis ?

Twm Teth
2 years ago

How very nice for Phil to be able to afford to go and support his region and his country, has it ever occurred to him that a vast amount of fans eg pensioners, young families after paying their bills are not fortunate enough to have a disposable income to be able to afford the tickets for these matches. (yes I am envious) for a lot of fans watching the game live free (after paying their tv license) was the only option. Watching highlights just isn’t the same is it?

Stephen Mason
Stephen Mason
2 years ago

This is not a good move for Wales RUGBY PLC. But I bet S4C will have live matches back again within 18 months.

Morris Dean
Morris Dean
2 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Mason

Doubt it if the 6 nations are now negotiating as a unit.

Hogyn y Gogledd
Hogyn y Gogledd
2 years ago

Rugby will go the way of cricket.

If it’s not widely available free of charge, people won’t see it.

And if they don’t see it, they won’t start playing it.

George Bodley
George Bodley
2 years ago

Essentially it all comes down to greed pure and simple

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