Viaplay (formerly Premier Sports) and BBC hold the TV rights for the Scottish Cup. Both broadcasters are entitled to show two matches each on the platform. They have been given some juicy matches to choose from but in the end, there are four main candidates for live selection.
Viaplay, who get first dibs on the games, have often tended to pick Celtic and Rangers matches regardless of opposition. On that basis, it is fair to assume that St Johnstone v Rangers at McDiarmid Park – one of the juicier ties in any case – will be broadcast by them. Celtic are at home to Championship high-flyers Morton and it is anticipated that match will also be screened live by Viaplay.
Hibs v Hearts at Easter Road was the first tie out of the hat and that simply has to be put on TV. It is one that Viaplay might be tempted to look at but in reality, this is likely to be picked by the BBC. That leaves just one tie up for grabs. Arbroath v Motherwell at Gayfield has some shock potential and is one for the Scottish Cup purist, but West of Scotland outfit Darvel are to host Aberdeen and it would be a surprise if that match doesn’t get a date with the BBC cameras.
The two broadcasters are expected to pick their matches soon. The ties are due to be played over the weekend of January 21. Last season, Rangers kicked off the fourth-round action on the Friday night against Stirling Albion but it is unlikely any of the ties will be played on a Friday this time around. This is because there are three cinch Premiership matches slated for Wednesday, January 18 in Celtic v St Mirren, Hearts v Aberdeen and Kilmarnock v Rangers and a minimum of two full days is needed between matches.
With that in mind, the televised ties are likely to be played over the weekend. It would not be a surprise if there is a lunchtime match on the Saturday and an evening kick-off – potentially 5.15pm – and then two further matches on the Sunday, one at lunchtime and one in the afternoon.