The Calcutta Cup remains a major draw
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David Ferguson looks at the importance of TV rights to Scottish rugby in The Scotsman.
"Talks between the SRU and the BBC in London over a rights fee to screen Scotland's games with New Zealand, South Africa and Samoa and cover the Melrose Sevens next April are ongoing, with both sides keen to thrash out a deal this month and avoid a switch to satellite, cable or internet broadcasters. However, while BBC Scotland is exploring a Magners League highlights package on its website, rugby supporters in Scotland will need BBC Wales, S4C, the Welsh language channel, and BBC Alba to see Glasgow and Edinburgh live, despite increased pressure from the Scottish Parliament this week, and can forget about club rugby returning any time soon.
"The audience figures show starkly the value of the RBS Six Nations Championship, and Calcutta Cup match in particular, to Scotland's oxygen of TV publicity. A total of 650,000 people tuned in for the Scotland-England clash this year, which equated to 37 per cent of the total BBC Scotland audience at that time. The game also captured 5.4m of the UK audience (29 percent).
"Scotland's opening match with France and the triumphant finale with Ireland drew an audience figure of 460,000, 31 per cent of the BBC Scotland viewers, dropping by 15,000 for the match with Wales and to 390,000 for Italy v Scotland. These games also attract a significant share of the UK audience, underlining why the BBC in London pays to have the entire tournament on its channel. But, outside of those seven weeks, Scotland's attraction dips locally and across the UK and, now that the SRU are no longer part of a combined rights deal with Wales and Ireland, Gordon McKie's board face a mammoth effort to compete for air-time."