Rugby World Cup 2011 Breaks Broadcast Records

By Community | April 27, 2012

Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) announced today that Rugby World Cup 2011 was watched by more young people and females than any previous tournament, with a total increase of 60 per cent in hours viewed making it the most broadcast Rugby World Cup ever.

Rugby’s showcase event, hosted last year in New Zealand, recorded impressive overall broadcast figures as a cumulative audience of 3.9 billion in 750 million households across 207 territories were able to tune in to watch the most competitive tournament to date.

Significantly, viewership amongst the five-45 year age group increased by six per cent from 2007, while the audience gender spilt narrowed with females accounting for 45 per cent, up from 25 per cent for Rugby World Cup 1995.

The announcement is a further boost for a tournament that exceeded all commercial, ticketing and visitor projections as New Zealand’s stadium of four million welcomed the world with open arms to an exceptional event on and off the field. It is also a strong endorsement of SKY New Zealand’s exceptional production standards and commitment to delivering a broadcast spectacle.

RWCL Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “We are delighted with these figures, which are an endorsement of the strong Rugby World Cup brand, our broadcast strategy comprising both free-to-air and satellite run in partnership with IMG, increased competitiveness on the field and a memorable and ultimately successful Rugby World Cup 2011. They also underscore the IRB’s mission to reach out to new and emerging markets such as USA, Brazil, Russia, China, India and Mexico, and grow Rugby beyond its traditional strongholds.”

“Rugby World Cup continues to go from strength to strength, reaching out to more men, women and children in new and existing Rugby markets around the world. Central to this growth has been a broadcast strategy that grows the profile and prestige of the RWC brand, while delivering strong revenues for the IRB to reinvest in the development of the Game worldwide. Approximately 60 per cent of RWC revenues are generated by broadcast.”

“We are in a highly-competitive sports and entertainment market and therefore it is particularly pleasing to see the average viewing age decreasing in line with our decision to fully embrace digital and social media platforms to engage with new fans and promote the tournament and Rugby worldwide.”

The expansion of hours viewed by 60 per cent from France 2007 reflects the ever diversifying methods of engaging with the tournament through on-demand, news access and digital platforms, including RWCL’s own daily digital highlights package that was available online and via the official tournament App, downloaded more than 3.5 million times.

The RWC 2011 Final was the most watched event in New Zealand TV history, attracting an incredible 98 per cent audience share. In France, the Final attracted the largest television audience for the calendar year with an average of 13.4 million viewers, a peak of 18.1 million and an audience share of 82 per cent despite the early kick-off in France. 73 per cent of France’s total population of 63 million people watched at least 15 minutes of RWC 2011 action.

In Australia, Fox Sport recorded the highest ever RWC Pay TV audience for the New Zealand v Australia semi-final, while in the UK the Wales v France semi-final recorded a 5.2 million audience average. The peak audience was recorded at 7.6 million for the England v Scotland quarter-final.

Mirroring Rugby’s continued penetration into emerging and new markets, Rugby World Cup 2011 saw increased audiences in Africa where the audience has grown by 250 per cent since 2007, in the Americas which increased by 56 per cent and 25 per cent in Asia where participation has also increased 18 per cent since Rugby World Cup 2007. Japan’s cumulative audience was just under 25 million as the country prepares to host the first ever Rugby World Cup in Asia in 2019.

Attention now turns to Rugby World Cup 2015 in England, which will be host broadcast by ITV, and a tournament that is poised to set new ticketing and attendance records. With Rugby breaking new broadcast territories, unprecedented interest in the sport and diversification of viewing trends across existing and new media platforms, the showcase tournament also looks set to reach out to more people through its broadcast platform.

England Rugby 2015 Chief Executive Paul Vaughan said: “It is great to see interest in the Game continually growing and these viewing figures highlight that Rugby is a sport that appeals to men and women of all ages. New Zealand put on a fantastic tournament and as we continue to build momentum ahead of the next Rugby World Cup in England in 2015 we will look to take advantage of the changing media landscape in order to connect with a growing audience and drive interest and excitement.”