URC smashes broadcast records (thanks to SA teams)

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More fans are watching the United Rugby Championship (URC) than ever before as the league has broken its record for largest total broadcast audience after its first 12 rounds.

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As the URC continues to draw over one million viewers each weekend, the current total of 13.3 million viewers (up to Round 12) has already beaten the league’s previous benchmark of 12.9 million for an entire season (PRO14 plus Rainbow Cup in 2020/21).

Now, as the URC enters the most competitive finish to a regular season in recent history, the consolidated audience data (supplied by Nielsen Sports) suggests that the audiences will strengthen even further by the end of the campaign.

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Notably, fixtures from Round 13 onwards have yet to be reported and projections show that average audience per round in the regular season should continue topping one million while expectations are that the URC playoffs and final will set new records in respect to previous knock-out fixtures over the past number of years.

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Martin Anayi, CEO of the United Rugby Championship, said: “These broadcast audiences provide a terrific pulse check for the United Rugby Championship. More eyeballs on our games translates into increased talkability of the league which is really evident across social media where we are exceeding all of our growth ambitions.

“Ultimately, the excitement on the pitch coupled to the intrigue of the big four South African teams joining the league has provided a great draw but it’s been a real collaborative effort from our broadcast partners and the league to maximise that interest. Internally, we have invested in personnel and resources to drive up the look and feel of our TV product and we are really excited about how our broadcast partners have bought into that vision.

“We know fans in the UK and Ireland were excited about their teams being back on RTÉ and BBC and in tandem with TG4 and S4C they are offering more free-to-air coverage. Premier Sport, without whom we would not have been able to adopt the ‘every game live’ model, have seen their viewership increase and in South Africa SuperSport are setting a high bar in showcasing the VURC to one of the biggest markets in our league.

“What’s just as encouraging is that in Italy, thanks to Mediaset’s coverage, we are about to hit the 1 million viewers for the first time ever. When you combine all of this then you can see really strong foundations for the VURC to build from and continue to grow the interest in our sport ahead of what appears to be an unpredictable end to the season.”

Among the data provided in the latest consolidated TV report, the URC was able to identify the top five teams for the most cumulative audience.

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Munster are the most-watched team in the URC so far with Leinster, Sharks, Connacht and Stormers all following closely.

The combined audience of over 1.7 million in Round 2 remains the highest round total for the season so far which smashed the previous record of 853 000 from 2017/18.

Additionally, the combined audience for Italy stands at over 900 000 for the season and will pass one million by Round 18.

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Official logo of the United Rugby Championship on the flag during the United Rugby Championship match between Munster and the Stormers at Thomond Park in Limerick, Ireland on October 2, 2021 (Photo by Andrew SURMA/ SIPA USA).

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