BBC plans record FA Cup coverage in renewal to 2025
The BBC, the UK's public-service broadcaster, today renewed its rights to English soccer's FA Cup for four more years, promising to show more matches from the historic knockout competition than ever before.
The new agreement begins with the 2021-22 season, with BBC Sport to show live matches, highlights and online clips.
Up to 18 FA Cup matches will be shown live each season, the BBC's biggest commitment to the FA Cup, the corporation said. There will be greater coverage of the competition's early stages, with up to six live matches from across the first and second rounds.
The BBC presently shares rights to the FA Cup with pay-TV's BT Sport in a three-year deal that expires at the end of the 2020-21 season.
A pay-TV agreement for the next rights cycle has yet to be announced.
The BBC's live coverage of the FA Cup fifth round tie between Chelsea and Manchester United on 18 February is he most-watched domestic match of the season, with an audience of 8.1 million people.
Mark Bullingham, chief commercial and football development officer of the Football Association, said: "The popularity of the competition goes from strength to strength and continues to draw some of the largest audiences in sport.
"The Emirates FA Cup is the best and most historic domestic cup competition in the world - and we are delighted to have agreed a new long-term commitment to keep it on the BBC until 2025."
Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, added: "We are delighted to have secured these FA Cup rights until the 2024-25 season, ensuring the millions that tune into free-to-air TV can continue to enjoy the most famous domestic cup competition in the world.
"This new deal now brings even more games to audiences across the country as the BBC provides top-class sport on all of our platforms. Our FA Cup coverage delivers some of the year's biggest viewing figures, engages a key younger audience and provides memorable sporting moments that unite a nation."
It was also announced today that the BBC will show the first semi-final of this season's FA Cup between Manchester City and Brighton on 6 April, with BT Sport to show the Watford-Wolverhampton Wanderers clash a day later.
Under the present three-year deal with the FA, which only began this season, BT Sport is showing 30 matches exclusively live each year. Six of the eight last-16 ties are shown live across both networks, which has angered many fans due to the staggered nature of the fixtures.
In 2014, live coverage of the FA Cup returned to the BBC for the first time since 2008 when the broadcaster replaced commercial broadcaster ITV as the free-to-air rights-holder after emerging victorious with a joint bid with BT Sport.
The BBC also holds highlights rights to the Premier League in a deal already extended to the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
This is the first season of the FA's six-year international rights contracts for the FA Cup with Pitch International responsible for the sale of rights to in western Europe, the Middle East and North Africa in an agreement worth close to $300 million, and the IMG agency having a deal worth $730 million for the rights in the rest of the world