The return of live television coverage of Super League fixtures in the south of France is edging closer as officials from Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique continue their negotiations with broadcasters.
The promotion of a second French team to the top-flight has rekindled interest from French sports channels, who are especially keen to televise the newly-created ‘derbies’ between Catalans and Toulouse, which is the fourth largest city in the country.
Regular Saturday afternoon coverage of live games from Stade Gilbert Brutus ceased in 2020 after beIN Sports pulled the financial plug. Efforts by the Dragons to self-fund broadcast costs have since proved too expensive.
The first five Super League fixtures in Perpignan last season were screened live under a short-term deal with beIN and Sky Sports helped to finance coverage of the historic sell-out semi-final against Hull KR in September.
Sky have already committed to having cameras in Toulouse for the first-ever Super League fixture in the city (against Huddersfield Giants on Saturday February 12th) and the ‘derby’ in Perpignan the following month. But the two French clubs are hoping to strike a new deal that will bring many more fixtures to television screens this year.
Any further Sky coverage of games in France for UK viewers depends upon a deal with French broadcasters. A series of meetings have taken place between club officials and TV companies with a decision expected to be announced soon.
Toulouse Chief Executive Cedric Garcia told League Express that every effort was being made to extend TV coverage this season.
He said, “I am very limited in what I can cay because everything is quite rightly confidential in such negotiations.
“But the real positive is that Toulouse Olympique, Catalans Dragons and the French Federation, with the support of Super League, are working together with a common strategy and a common goal.
“At this stage I cannot give you any names of any TV channels but things are moving forward and we sure hope that we can get something before the start of the season.
“I have nothing concrete now but we are all seeking a common goal.”
Garcia has previously stated that TV coverage is “crucial” for professional Rugby League in France, adding: “It is our number one priority to put Rugby League on television for French viewers.”
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