Six Nations Rugby is selling a 1/7th stake of its tournament to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners in a deal worth up to $509 million, to be paid over five years.
Europe’s biggest rugby tournament is currently underway and includes the rugby unions of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales. Each nation’s rugby union will also hold a 1/7th stake in the new deal with CVC.
CVC isn’t new to investing in sports, let alone rugby. Last year, the firm acquired a 28% interest in the PRO14 Rugby league for $141 million. In 2019, it acquired a minority stake in England’s Premier Rugby Ltd.
The announcement of CVC’s investment comes with questions about if the games will be moved from terrestrial TV to a subscription-based service like Sky or Amazon. Six Nations CEO Ben Morel says proper negotiations have yet to take place.
“I can reassure people that we are going to do what is right for the game in the long term, but I can’t prejudge based on things I don’t know,” Morel told The Guardian. “We are in the process of collecting proposals in the next couple of weeks.”
Last month, British free-to-air network ITV drew 8.7 million viewers for Scotland’s win against England in the tournament’s opening round — a slight increase over the 8.6 million who watched the Six Nations teams play on the BBC in 2020.