WR To Adopt OTT Model But Not Before RWC in Japan

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8 March 2019

James Abraham, World Rugby’s content and programming manager believes the governing body will eventually incorporate its own over-the-top (OTT) TV service into its rights structure according to Sports Pro Media, though he has ruled out any drastic changes before the end of this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

He says that there must first be a demand for a “compelling” service before rolling out a dedicated streaming platform, though does foresee a time when a World Rugby OTT service will be able to facilitate the distribution of rights in the sport’s smaller markets.

“The biggest challenge for us is that we don’t have a direct relationship with our audience that is transactional, in terms of cash,” Abraham told an audience during Digital Sports’ Growing Rugby Through Digital Innovation panel discussion in London.

“When we sell tickets to the Rugby World Cup, that is done through another company, so that is something that we are wrestling with. Whether we want to make money out of [an OTT service] or whether it is something that is important for the audience, these are points for us [to consider].

“It has to be in our future and it has to be a service that we can roll out to competitions and unions. [For example], if France have no interest in selling their rights to their home internationals in Southeast Asia, we should be able to provide a platform that allows viewers to access [their coverage] there.”

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