Six Nations set to vanish from terrestrial TV as Sky prepares £300m bid

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The Six Nations could be set to leave terrestrial television and go behind a paywall for the first time in two decades.

Sky Sports is said to be close to finalising a £300m deal for the broadcast rights to the rugby tournament, which is currently shown for free on BBC and ITV.

The two channels teamed up in 2016 to outbid Sky, securing a deal said to be worth £90m.

However, no joint bids are being allowed in the next round of negotiations.

An industry source, quoted in The Rugby Paper, said: "By ruling out any joint bids it’s almost as if the Six Nations are clearing the way for Sky.

“There is a very real danger that they will be prepared to sacrifice the big audiences on BBC and ITV for more money.

“Cricket did that and the popularity of the sport was hit as a consequence. If rugby chooses not to learn from that mistake, then they will be at risk of the same consequence from the same lack of exposure.”

Six Nations matches have been on terrestrial TV since England’s home games were shown exclusively on Sky from 1997 to 2000. Submissions for the current tender must be submitted before March 14.