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TNT Sports ‘very keen’ on Super League broadcasting deal, says former Sky Sports commentator

Super League is at a crucial stage with some of the competition’s biggest clubs Wigan Warriors, Leeds Rhinos, Warrington Wolves and St Helens working with the rest of Super League and IMG to try nail down the best possible broadcast deal.

After coming out and sharing their disappointment at the latest Sky Sports offer for the competition’s TV rights from next season and beyond, many are unsure where, if anywhere, they will be watching Super League.

Sky Sports have been the home of Super League since 1996 and much of those years were covered by dynamic commentating duo Eddie Hemmings and Mike Stephenson, with the pair now retired and running their own podcast.

Speaking on that podcast, Hemmings revealed that TNT Sports, formerly known as BT Sports, are interested in a deal for Super League and he believes the Sky Sports era in rugby league could be over.

“The fact that the game has said publicly, it’s never happened before, to my knowledge, the fact that they’ve said publicly, ‘we’re disappointed with Sky’s offer’, I’ve got a horrible feeling that the boys at Sky might be on the outer.

“We’ll obviously have to wait and see, but BT (TNT Sports) are very much in the frame. They’ve already got a portfolio that includes the Champions League, the Premier League, and top-flight Rugby Union.

“They’re reported to be very keen to land rugby league, so that they’ve got both the codes on board. And here’s one for you, a rumour that’s reached me. Maybe, maybe a rugby channel covering both league and union. They are suddenly a real threat to Sky’s deal.”

“It’s risky business. It always is. Television deals, the sport’s governing bodies and TV companies, it’s always, always risky business and it’s like a game of poker, whoever holds their nerve the most, they come out on top.”

Responding to his long-time friend and colleague Hemmings, ‘Stevo’ wasn’t so sure that Super League’s decision to publicly admit they weren’t happy with Sky’s offer was a good move – believing they may have shown their hand too early.

“Super League have been walking the tightrope to such an extent that maybe with all this mention about these other companies coming involved and they’re going to do this and they’re going to do that, were they trying to frighten Sky into lifting their offer?

“They didn’t come out publicly when Sky were backing them because of the pandemic until it was a little bit later saying, oh, you know, isn’t that great that Sky are still backing us? I think they’ve taken the gamble, but that’s only my opinion.

“If it does go to another, well, fair enough, but will that be enough money to keep our game alive? Let’s face it, look, TV revenue is the only reason why we can still keep going.

“I mean, when you look at the difference in revenue down under, I mean, they’re a million miles ahead. I can’t believe that they have come out with a statement saying, I’m sorry, Sky, but that we’re disappointed with your offer.

“If you’re playing poker, you don’t show what you’ve got on your cards and Super League have done that they’ve said, ‘oh we’re not happy with the offer, we want to go higher’. When you’re playing poker, you keep schtum.”

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