NBC Sports Group has announced a seven-year partnership with World Rugby to broadcast the sport’s biggest international events, including the Rugby World Cup and Women’s Rugby World Cup.
The agreement will be the biggest of its kind for rugby rights in the USA, and will provide extensive coverage in a nation where the sport’s popularity has soared following rugby sevens’ inclusion at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The exclusive rights deal will feature the world’s most prestigious 15-a-side and sevens tournaments, including the 2019 and 2023 Rugby World Cups, the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017 and 2021, the 2018 and 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens, and the annual World U20 Championship from 2017 to 2023.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The USA is one of the fastest-growing markets for rugby participation and fan growth and this exciting and unprecedented deal with one of the world’s most prestigious broadcasters will ensure that more people than ever before in the USA will be able to access the world’s top men’s and women’s 15s and sevens events. NBC will be the destination for rugby in the USA.”
“This deal represents a significant uplift on previous deals in the US, reflecting the ever-increasing stature of rugby within what is arguably the most competitive commercial marketplace for sport,” said Brett Gosper, World Rugby’s chief executive. “This all-encompassing deal with our friends at NBC is great for fans and great for rugby as we look towards San Francisco’s hosting of Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2018.”
Jon Miller, NBC Sports Group’s president of programming, added: “This agreement is the culmination of years of cultivating our rugby portfolio. It began with US collegiate rugby clubs and now, through this unprecedented agreement, includes the greatest tournaments, teams, players and coaches in the world.
“Whether it is men’s or women’s, sevens or 15s, pros or amateurs, rugby fans can rest assured that they will have more access to more premier rugby content than has ever been possible in the US.”
The deal sees NBC add to its already extensive portfolio of rugby coverage, including Olympic rugby events, England’s Premiership Rugby league, and the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.