THE PRO14’s main broadcaster, Premier Sports, have cancelled their contract with production company Sunset+Vine with immediate effect as they feel the pain of rugby’s cash crisis.
It raises questions over whether Premier Sports will be retained by the PRO14 when their contract runs out at the end of next season.
Subscription channel Premier Sports took over the PRO14’s broadcasting rights for the 2018/19 campaign on a three-year deal, committing to showing every game live.
In their second season the company have seen their revenues hit hard after the coronavirus pandemic led to the indefinite suspension of all rugby in March.
Premier Sports have used renowned production specialists Sunset+Vine to produce PRO14 coverage in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Premier will now take their production of PRO14 games in house in order to save money and want to continue working with the PRO14 beyond the length of their current deal.
A spokesperson for Premier Sports said: “The team at Sunset+Vine have been brilliant throughout our time working with them, but a decision has been taken to move in a different business direction and we are looking forward to continuing producing and broadcasting the PRO14.”
A Sunset+Vine spokesman said: “I can confirm Premier Sports have terminated this contract for force majeure.” The PRO14 did not respond when contacted for comment.
The cancellation of Sunset+Vine’s contract does not impact the production of PRO14 games in the Republic of Ireland as they are done by Eir Sport.
But with action returning following lockdown on August 22 with a series of derby matches, Premier’s financial situation has undoubtedly been hit.
It could leave the door open for other companies – most notably the BBC – to throw their hat back into the ring when the PRO14 come to renegotiate their television deal.