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The launch of the United Rugby Championship (URC) last weekend drew a record number of viewers for a single league round.
Early figures show that domestic audiences alone broke the old world record of 853,511 in a derby in 2017/18 and will continue to rise until all consolidated reporting and international audience figures are available.
Round 1 of the URC represented the first broadcast of the league’s new hybrid model of Free-to-Air (FTA), Pay TV and OTT, which is geared towards making the sport as accessible as possible in its core territories and in international markets.
FTA is a critical component of the URC’s new broadcast strategy and builds on fan feedback projects that identified increased coverage of FTA in domestic markets as a priority for the new league.
Round 1 saw the return of RTÉ and BBC Wales, complementing the reach of existing partners TG4 and S4C, while BBC Northern Ireland will screen the league’s action once again when they begin their coverage in Round 3.
Mediaset also made its debut in Italy when access to FTAs made a welcome return with a strong opening audience.
In the UK, Premier Sports continues to be the only place to watch all 151 URC games live, while also starting their Irish coverage for the first time.
SuperSport brought the new league into fan homes in South Africa for the first time when all four of its teams took their bow at the URC.
Round 1 also marked the successful launch of URC TV, the league’s OTT streaming service that is available nationally in the Republic of Ireland and internationally, where fans in the US, Australia, and many other territories of the world can see all the games of your team live and on demand. throughout the season.
Reacting to the record viewership, CEO Martin Anayi said: “Achieving this milestone based only on domestic viewers in the first weekend demonstrates fan interest in our players and teams and we strongly believe that we will reach an audience of more than 1 million national viewers. spectators per round very quickly.
“The first round showed what the URC can be with fans in the stadiums watching exciting rugby created by so many different styles of play.
“We saw a crisp presentation on all of our stations doing an excellent job of bringing the stories of our games and players to life with engaging personalities and insightful analysis.
“In a groundbreaking move for our league, we saw the launch of URC TV, which allows us to offer fans around the world a direct channel to watch their favorite teams on their terms.”
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