The Six Nations have begun the most competitive and lucrative TV rights auction in the tournament’s history after finally confirming Sportsmail’s story that CVC Capital have made a £365million investment.
Tender documents for TV rights for the 2022 to 2024 championships have been sent to broadcasters in the expectation of securing a significant increase on the existing £90m-a-year deal — with the process due to be finished by the end of the month.
The original tender process was postponed 12 months ago at the start of the pandemic which, despite the subsequent flattening of sports rights values, is looking like a shrewd move as new entrants have come to the market.
Six Nations chiefs seeking a significant increase on the existing £90m-a-year TV rights deal
Amazon are expected to bid after being pleased with their initial foray into rugby when covering last year’s Autumn Nations Cup, while Sky Sports and BT Sport will also attempt to wrestle the rights from the existing partnership of BBC and ITV, who are also likely to bid.
The expectation within the industry is that the Six Nations will be sold to a subscription channel, given all the unions have been badly hit by the pandemic and CVC will want a return on their investment.
But chief executive Ben Morel has insisted the end of free-to-air coverage is not inevitable.
As Sportsmail revealed in January, CVC have paid £365m for 14.3 per cent of the Six Nations’ commercial rights for the next five years in a deal which will yield £95m for the RFU, with the other home unions allocated smaller amounts.
The Six Nations TV rights for 2022 to 2024 are expected to be sold to a subscription channel