Member of the BT Sport broadcasting crew beside the pitch before kick off
London - AFP
British broadcaster BT Sport on Monday said it had struck a deal to show English club rugby live until 2021, reflecting what Premiership Rugby called a "golden age" for the sport in England.
The deal is worth 80 percent more than the £152 million BT paid to take over from Sky for the last four-year agreement, which runs out in 2017, the BBC reported.
The number of live games will rise from 69 to 80 under the new deal -- the longest in Premiership history.
"BT Sport has been a fantastic partner for English club rugby," Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty said in a statement.
McCafferty said live TV audiences have grown by 50 percent in the past 18 months, adding: "We are enjoying a golden era for rugby in this country with the Rugby World Cup just around the corner and the game's re-entry in the Olympics in the summer of 2016."
John Petter, chief executive of BT Consumer, said: "2015 will be an amazing year for rugby in the UK and the popularity of rugby will continue to grow."
The estimated value of the deal means it could come in higher than the record 74 million euros a year that pay TV channel Canal Plus has agreed to pay to retain the broadcasting rights for France's cash rich Top-14 in a four-year deal.