Debut URC Season Set New Broadcast Records


Over 34 million fans tuned into the inaugural United Rugby Championship season as the league set a number of major broadcast records in its first campaign. With records set for the season-long audience, Play-Off viewers and the URC Grand Final itself, it is clear that the new 16-team league has caught the imagination of rugby fans across the northern and southern hemispheres. Despite reducing the regular season to 18 rounds, the strong viewership numbers produced across the UK, Ireland and South Africa prove that less is more. In a further boost, Italy reported their largest audiences ever while international rights coverage and the launch of the streaming service bolstered the global total. In its first season, the United Rugby Championship was supported by Free-to-Air (FTA) broadcasters in the UK, Ireland and Italy – BBC Wales, BBC Northern Ireland, Mediaset, RTÉ, S4C and TG4 and by leading Pay TV companies SuperSport (South Africa) and Premier Sports (UK and Ireland). This mix of broadcast platforms allowed fans to enjoy rising standards of production while the crossover and collaboration across different territories gave the league a truly global feel. The numbers behind the headlines are truly stellar and set a high benchmark for the URC, its teams, players, broadcasters and partners to aim for ahead of the new 2022/23 season. Thanks to the consolidated reports from Nielsen Sports, one of the world’s leading agencies in broadcast reporting, the United Rugby Championship can confirm that the audience for the entire 2021/22 season reached a high mark of 34.6million across 7,000-plus hours of coverage. That figure of 34.6m was an increase of 169% compared to the 2020/21 PRO14 and Rainbow Cup campaigns combined. The cumulative average audience per game during the season was 230k which represented a 109% increase on 20/21. A cumulative audience of almost 3 million people tuned into Round 3 with the figure of 2,892,000 setting a new record for the highest audience for a single round in the league’s history. In total, four rounds eclipsed an audience of 2 million, seven rounds drew more than 1.5 million and 6 of the remaining 7 rounds all attracted a minimum viewership of 1 million. The average audience per round in the regular season was 1.7 million. The cumulative audience from Italy was 1.6 million. URC Grand Final and Play-Offs The first-ever United Rugby Championship Grand Final took place in Cape Town, South Africa between the DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls and set a new TV milestone for the league. A total of 1.25 million watched the DHL Stormers win their first URC title and set a new record for the league decider. Although the Grand Final was an all-South African affair 41% of the audience came from outside of the territory with RTÉ’s live coverage in the Republic of Ireland accounting for 15%. This trend of interest was a hallmark of the entire URC Play-Offs which also set a record for viewership with 3.8 million across seven games. The largest viewership for the Play-Offs came in the DHL Stormers v Ulster Final Four game where the audience hit 754k while the other Semi-Final encounter between Leinster and the Vodacom Bulls drew 472k. Including the URC Grand Final, the average audience per game in the Play-Offs was 537k Top 10 most watched regular season games in 2021/22 In the Top 10 most watched games of the regular season, Munster featured five times, the Cell C Sharks were involved in three with Ospreys, Ulster and the DHL Stormers appeared twice. The most watched game in the regular season was Ospreys’ Round 3 game with Cell C Sharks which was viewed by a combined audience of 581k on BBC Wales, SuperSport and Premier Sports. R3 Ospreys v Cell C Sharks 580,026 R3 Cardiff v Vodacom Bulls 560,886 R2 Munster v DHL Stormers 538,909 R6 Cell C Sharks v Scarlets 531,421 R10 Munster v Ulster 523,707 R4 Munster v Connacht 521,110 R1 Munster v Cell C Sharks 484,267 R5 Ospreys v Munster 480,652 R4 Ulster v Emirates Lions 468,993 R4 Dragons v DHL Stormers 445,471 Most Watched Clubs Helped by their appearance in the URC Grand Final, the DHL Stormers were the most viewed team in the league with their total audience coming in at over 7.2million. The URC champions are followed by the Vodacom Bulls, Munster, Cell C Sharks and Leinster for audiences across the entire season. The DHL Stormers and Munster were the most watched teams in South Africa and Ireland, respectively with Ospreys leading the interest in Wales, Benetton were No 1 in Italy and Edinburgh topped the pile in Scotland. Derby matches which are at the heart of the tribal rivalries in the URC also performed well with only one South African fixture breaking the dominance of the all-Irish clashes. Top 5 Derby Audiences The most watched derby games of the season all took place in Ireland, with Munster’s R10 clash with Ulster drawing in 523k in a game that was also No 5 in the list of Top 10 most watched in the regular season. Munster also feature in four of the Top 5 derby audiences. R10 Munster v Ulster 523,707 R4 Munster v Connacht 521,110 R16 Ulster v Munster 428,709 R15 Munster v Leinster 402,534 R6 Leinster v Ulster 401,603 Top 5 Games from Ireland R2 Munster v DHL Stormers 538,909 R10 Munster v Ulster 523,707 R4 Munster v Connacht 521,110 R1 Munster v Cell C Sharks 484,267 R4 Ulster v Emirates Lions 468,993 Top 5 Games from South Africa R6 Cell C Sharks v Scarlets 531,421 R17 DHL Stormers v Leinster 417,323 R7 Emirates Lions v Munster 394,416 R16 Cell C Sharks v Leinster 361,290 R17 Vodacom Bulls v Glasgow Warriors 323,386 Top 5 Games from Italy R11 Zebre v Munster 439,701 R1 Zebre v Emirates Lions 295,647 R1 Benetton v DHL Stormers 213,754 R10 Benetton v Cell C Sharks 202,283 R4 Benetton v Ospreys 196,817 Top 5 Games from Scotland R3 Edinburgh v DHL Stormers 382,185 R3 Glasgow Warriors v Emirates Lions 363,674 R4 Edinburgh v Vodacom Bulls 260,448 R5 Glasgow Warriors v Leinster 224,494 R2 Glasgow Warriors v Cell C Sharks 209,027 Top 5 Games from Wales R3 Ospreys v Cell C Sharks 580,026 R3 Cardiff v Vodacom Bulls 560,886 R5 Ospreys v Munster 480,652 R4 Dragons v DHL Stormers 445,471 R3 Scarlets v Munster 330,313 The post Debut URC Season Set New Broadcast Records appeared first on Munster Rugby.