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aviva rugby

BT Sport recorded "terrific" viewing figures on the first weekend of its Aviva Premiership rugby union coverage, it has been claimed.

According to the broadcaster, the number of people tuning in was up 45 per cent on those achieved by ESPN during its first season of rugby coverage.

BT Sport said the ratings were also up on those recorded by Sky Sports on last season's opening weekend.

Last week's Friday night encounter between Newcastle Falcons and Bath Rugby averaged 67,000 viewers, with a peak of 108,000.

This was despite the game being broadcast at the same time as the FIFA World Cup qualifier between England and Moldova, which was live on ITV.

BT Sport's rugby double-header London Irish v Saracens and London Wasps v Harlequins attracted 77,000 and 103,000 viewers on average.

And Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors averaged 70,000 viewers, with an impressive peak of 156,000.

BT Sport will be hoping for a similar result this Friday (September 13th), when it makes Harlequins v Northampton Saints available free-to-air for all TV viewers.

The match - which kicks off at 7:45pm - will be available on BT Sport and BT TV, but also to Sky, Virgin Media and Freeview viewers via their set-top boxes.

In total, BT Sport is showing 69 live games from the Aviva Premiership this season, the first of a four-year deal.

As well as live rugby union on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays throughout 2013-14, the broadcaster's coverage includes a midweek rugby show - Rugby Tonight.

The programme - presented by Craig Doyle, Martin Bayfield, Sarra Elgan and Matt Dawson - features debate, explanation and light humour.

Ben Kay and Austin Healey are among the regular guests on the show.

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