SANZAAR have said no UK broadcast agreement will be able to be reached in time for the start of the Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa competitions.
In a statement released to The Rugby Paper, tournament organisers have ruled out the chances of a TV channel or streaming service showcasing Super Rugby AU, set to kick off this weekend, and Super Rugby Aotearoa, to kick off one week later.
The chances of Super Rugby AU being televised in the UK had appeared to be a longshot once Fox Rugby lost its rights to the competition to newly-launched service Stan Sport.
SANZAAR’s previous UK television partner, Sky Sports, operated a shared service with their counterparts at Fox but no such agreement has been reached with Stan.
The loss of Super Rugby for Sky Sports’ rugby programme continues its dwindling coverage of rugby union that is limited to the Lions tour, Women’s Six Nations and out-of-window Tests such as England versus Barbarians – having also lost Top 14 rights prior to last season.
The rest of the UK’s rugby broadcast is spread across BBC, ITV, BT Sport, Channel 4, Channel 5, Amazon Prime and Premier Sports.
A SANZAAR spokesperson told TRP: “The ongoing effects of COVID-19 have had a drastic impact on the sporting landscape, not just on tournament formats and match operations but in the commercial landscape as well.
“Sporting federations ability to negotiate new commercial deals in areas such as sponsorship and television broadcasting has been severely compromised in the market due to reduced budgets, a decrease in business confidence, less available product and the ongoing uncertainty created by the pandemic.
“At present we have been unable to get agreement from broadcasters in Europe and we have no OTT (over the top) platform in place as these costs are very expensive.
“Hopefully, we can rectify this in near future.”
Cross-continental costs involved in airing rugby have seen broadcasters revert their interests back home, with fans still unlikely to be able to attend matches for the next few months.
On Sunday, TRP reported that Championship clubs had rejected a deal tabled by PRO14 rights holders Premier Sports ahead of the second tier’s kick off on March 6.
NEALE HARVEY and ADAM ELLIS