Welsh Rugby Union Chief Executive Roger Lewis with Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of BBC Cymru Wales.
The Welsh Rugby Union and BBC today announced a major new agreement which guarantees exclusive live coverage of autumn series International matches on network television until the end of 2018.
The new contract, which will make a significant contribution to the financial stability of the WRU over the coming seasons, for the first time stipulates that all Welsh international rugby matches in the autumn period will be shown on a BBC Network channel. Match footage will also be shown via other BBC outlets and the WRU will also be able to make the footage available via its own platforms.
"Set against the mouth-watering prospect of the returning Welsh British and Irish Lions coaching staff and players facing Test matches against South Africa, Argentina, Tonga and Australia at the Millennium Stadium this autumn, today's announcement is incredibly significant for the future of Welsh rugby," said WRU chief executive Roger Lewis.
"A seat to watch Wales take on four of the top sides in world rugby this November has not increased in price but has in value, as a direct result of the heroics of the likes of Leigh Halfpenny, Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones in Australia this summer.
"Simultaneously the appetite of an international rugby watching television audience has been whetted and it is fitting that we are able to confirm today that all our autumn Internationals will be shown live on BBC Network television until the end of 2018.
"The new agreement with BBC Network will ensure that coverage of our important series of autumn Internationals is UK-wide, guaranteeing a significant television audience which will have positive knock on effects for all of our stakeholders.
"We are delighted to be able to extend our working relationship with the BBC through to the end of 2018 and have recognised the importance of making Welsh rugby available to as wide an audience as possible."
The agreement with the BBC also covers potential one off Test matches, such as the fixture played in June before a summer tour, but does not include any games which will be scheduled in the 'warm-up' period before the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
It is also the stated intention of the WRU to ensure Saturday afternoon kick-offs become standard for Autumn Internationals as of 2014.
"As part of our negotiations, we have ensured that both Welsh and English language radio commentary for international matches will be available for exploitation by the BBC and there is also an option for S4C to show live international matches simultaneously with the BBC Network transmissions," added Lewis.
Barbara Slater, BBC Director of Sport says: "We're very pleased to have renewed our broadcast deal with the WRU. The Autumn Internationals are popular with audiences and so it is great that BBC Sport will continue to offer comprehensive live coverage of these top international fixtures across all platforms."
Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of BBC Cymru Wales says: "Many are calling this a golden age of international rugby in Wales - and I know millions of sport fans right across the UK will be delighted that Wales' autumn internationals will be available live and uninterrupted on the BBC until the end of 2018.
"BBC Cymru Wales has been at the heart of Welsh rugby coverage for years - both domestically and internationally - and I'm thrilled that this agreement ensures that everyone in Wales will continue to share in the drama and excitement of these mouth-watering clashes against some of the southern hemisphere's finest sides."
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