Why does STV show England internationals but not Scotland games?

Scotland's friendly defeat to Costa Rica was shown on Sky Sports. Picture: Getty
Scotland's friendly defeat to Costa Rica was shown on Sky Sports. Picture: Getty
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For England internationals, such as the recent win over the Netherlands, football fans have been able to watch the games on free-to-air channel ITV.

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However, for supporters north of the border it’s a very different story. Instead of being able to watch the games on freeview, fans are forced into paying for a Sky Sports subscription if they want to view from the comfort of their own home.

This goes for the friendly double-header against Costa Rica and Hungary, which represent the first two games of Alex McLeish’s tenure.

As a result, many fans have become disgruntled with what they perceive to be a lack of respect for the Scots audience. Although, things are a little more complex.

A deal announced in June 2013 saw Sky gain rights to all of Scotland’s competitive matches from 2014 to 2018. They then retained exclusivity in January 2017 for matches between 2018 to 2022.

ITV, meanwhile, managed to gain rights to screen all of England’s matches through the same period. They were able to retain European Championships and World Cup qualifiers for 2018-2022 but lost out to Sky for the rights to show England matches in the Uefa Nations League.

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The new competition will replace friendly fixtures, so it won’t be too long before these games are put behind a paywall down south as well.

The two exceptions for Scotland fans were the World Cup qualifiers against England in the last campaign, but that was because ITV had the rights and were able to broadcast on STV as a result. There was even the unusual situation at Hampden Park where Sky and ITV both showed the game live but from different ends of the game.

In the current deal, individual broadcasters retain the right to bid for Scotland friendly matches, though these are sold on a UK-wide basis. As a result, STV as a branch are limited in what they can do.

STV said in a statement: “Rights are sold on a UK-wide basis, including our Welsh and Northern Irish neighbours. Sadly they are out of our reach.

“As STV is part of the channel three family, ITV leads the way when it comes to what’s on.

“Love it or loathe it, this includes some of the England qualifiers.”

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