BBC Retains FA Cup Rights in Sublicensing Deal with TNT Sports

The BBC has secured a deal to remain a broadcaster of the FA Cup after losing out to TNT Sports on the competition’s main media rights package. Last month, TNT agreed to pay a record £264 million to become the FA Cup’s primary rights holder from 2025-2029. However, part of their contract stipulated that a certain number of matches must be made available on free-to-air television each round.

While TNT could have aired games on their Freeview channel Quest or YouTube, they opted to sub-license a portion of the rights to a major public service broadcaster. According to reports, the BBC has now finalized a preliminary agreement with TNT to retain their long-standing role as an FA Cup broadcaster.

The deal will see the BBC air two FA Cup matches from each round up to the quarter-finals stage. They will also be permitted to show one semi-final fixture and the final at Wembley Stadium. Furthermore, the BBC is expected to retain rights for their iconic Match of the Day highlights program.

This agreement is a major boost for the BBC’s sports department, which has lost some high-profile rights packages in recent years including Formula One, the Grand National and The Open Championship golf tournament. Retaining a premium product like the FA Cup allows them to continue delivering marquee live sports content to UK viewers.

For TNT, partnering with an established free-to-air broadcaster ensures the FA Cup receives maximum promotional support and exposure across TV, radio and online platforms. This aligns with the FA’s desire to maintain the competition’s broad accessibility and popularity after opting to sell the main rights to a subscription service.

While some criticized the FA’s decision last month, a mixed broadcasting model involving both paid and free-to-air channels has been common for the FA Cup over the past 30 years. Previous rights holders like BT Sport, Sky Sports and Setanta have all shared coverage with terrestrial partners during their tenures.

In addition to the BBC’s rights, TNT has also secured the Community Shield, FA Youth Cup matches and the ability to show any third round tie that doesn’t kick off during the 3pm blackout window. This ensures more FA Cup action than ever before will be available live across the UK from 2025 onwards.

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