Its launch weekend surpassed the previous viewing figures record
The United Rugby Championship has seen a record-breaking launch to its new broadcast strategy.
The previous audience record for a weekend was 853,511 from a derby weekend in the 2017/18 season, and early figures show that domestic audiences alone have surpassed this from its launch weekend this season.
After fan feedback, the competition has moved towards more free-to-air coverage in its domestic territories, as well as launching its own OTT service for international supporters.
The turn to free-to-air has seen RTE and BBC Wales return as broadcasters, adding to TG4 and S4C. BBC Northern Ireland will also start coverage from round three. In addition, OTT service URC TV is now also available to Republic of Ireland viewers and international audiences.
Premier Sports continues as the exclusive broadcaster in the UK, also adding Irish coverage for the first time. There were also debuts for Mediaset in Italy and Super Sport in South Africa - which was capitalising on the addition of South African teams to the competition.
CEO of the United Rugby Championship, Martin Anayi, said: “To achieve this milestone based only on domestic viewers in the first weekend proves the interest fans have in our players and teams and we firmly believe we will grow to audiences of over 1 million domestic viewers per round very quickly. Round 1 showcased everything the URC can be with fans back in the stadiums watching some thrilling rugby created by so many different playing styles.
“We saw sharp presentation across all of our broadcasters who do a terrific job in bringing the stories of our games and players to life with engaging personalities and insightful analysis. In a ground-breaking move for our league, we saw the launch of URC TV which allows us to offer fans across the world a direct channel to watch their favourite teams on their terms.”