The Six Nations could go behind a paywall from 2022 as joint bids for the tournament rights will not be allowed in the next round of negotiations.
The Rugby competition has been available to watch on free-to-air television for the past two decades, since the rights to England’s home games left Sky after the 2000 season.
The most recent television deal saw the BBC and ITV team up to outbid Sky, keeping the matches on terrestrial television.
However, an industry source told the Rugby Paper that with the decision to eliminate joint bids this time around, “it’s almost as if the Six Nations are clearing the way for Sky.”
If the broadcaster were to secure the rights, the tournament would be behind a paywall from 2022 until at least 2024 in a deal rumoured to be worth £300 million.
A Six Nations spokesperson was quoted in response: “Six Nations are in the process of seeking bids for various sets of media rights but these are not due for some time. All of this is highly premature and speculative as no proposals have yet been received by any interested party.
“We would not rule anything out at this stage and the unions will collectively review and make a decision based on the nature of the offers received.”
A BBC spokesperson told RadioTimes.com: “Whilst we wouldn’t comment on the specifics of an ongoing rights negotiation, terrestrial channels have brought unprecedented viewing figures to the Six Nations, ensuring that rugby remains a sport that is very much relevant and enjoyed by as wide an audience as possible and we very much hope that will continue.”
This year’s Six Nations ends on 14th March