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European club rugby signs global TV deal with IMG

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European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) has secured its second major financial contract with confirmation that IMG Media has agreed a four-year deal for global television broadcast rights to the EPCR competitions from the 2014/15 season.

The new partnership with IMG, which will generate a substantial increase in revenue on previous agreements, covers the television broadcast rights outside of the UK, Ireland and France for the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup, and the Challenge Cup Qualifying Tournament.
Broadcast rights for Italy will be part of the agreement from 2015/16.
IMG will market live and highlights rights across all platforms for the 67 European Rugby Champions Cup games, plus the Play-Offs, 19 matches from the European Rugby Challenge Cup and three games from the Challenge Cup Qualifying Tournament for emerging clubs/provinces.
The two principal tournaments, which are the successors to the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup , will feature 38 professional clubs from the 6 Nations countries - England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales – who qualify through their domestic leagues of the Aviva Premiership, Top 14 and Pro 12. There will also be two emerging clubs/provinces from the Qualifying Tournament.
Welcoming the new agreement, EPCR Executive Committee member, Bruce Craig, said: "This new partnership with IMG comes quickly on the back of the conclusion of the UK TV rights contract with BT Sport and BSkyB. IMG share our ambition and vision for these tournaments, and we look forward to working with them to ensure European professional club rugby reaches its potential in both established and emerging markets.

"We are now heading into the October kick-off in a very strong commercial position and expect another significant announcement later this month when the competitive tender process to secure the broadcast rights for France is concluded."

Michael Mellor, Senior Vice-President at IMG Media, said: "This is the dawn of a new era in professional club rugby in Europe and it is an exciting proposition for us to be involved in from the very beginning. We believe that our vast worldwide network of offices along with our experience in selling rugby, places us in a great position to grow awareness of the top two European club tournaments across all media platforms."
EPCR was established in April 2014 and is made up of nine stakeholders - the six unions, the IRFU, FIR, FFR, RFU, Scottish Rugby and WRU and the three club organisations, Premiership Rugby, Ligue Nationale de Rugby and Regional Rugby Wales.
Both competitions will kick-off in October 2014 and will be played over nine weekends, culminating in the finals on the weekend of 1 / 2 May 2015.