Record TV Viewership Fuels Rugby’s Soaring Popularity: It would be advantageous for any sport to strive for a parody of the astounding television viewership statistics of the Super Bowl, an event that annually attracts over 100 million viewers exclusively in the United States.
Although some sports and competitions possess more moderate aspirations, the Rugby World Cup has garnered viewership that surpasses initial projections…
Record TV Viewership Fuels Rugby’s Soaring Popularity
The pool phase of the World Cup generally transpired according to expectations.
Thus, the current Rugby World Cup odds bear resemblance to those that were presented prior to the commencement of the tournament. Pre-existing favorites for the trophy include incumbent champions South Africa (+300), France (+330), and New Zealand (+330). Nonetheless, an unexpected new protagonist has surfaced.
With a revised odds of +300, Ireland is now the favourite to advance to the round of 16 in France. In the rugby betting odds, their talisman, Johnny Sexton, is the new favorite alongside home idol Thomas Ramos in the Top Pointscorer category.
France 27-13 New Zealand: Hosts record impressive opening World Cup win over three-time champions https://t.co/SXb9Qz6jBy
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 8, 2023
Prominent triumphs have been achieved by countries such as Uruguay and Fiji, whose geographical and cultural dissimilarities serve to underscore the truly global nature of the Rugby World Cup. The expanded format of the tournament has provided opportunities for lesser-known nations like Namibia, Romania, and Georgia to shine on the international stage.
The tournament’s allure may stem from this, and the television viewership figures indicate that even those who have never witnessed a rugby game before, as well as more casual and “fair weather” enthusiasts, are tuning in for the most recent round of action.
Scrum Down on the Sofa
There is evidence to imply that this Rugby World Cup edition may have received the most television coverage throughout its extensive and momentous history.
The opening match of the RWC, which pitted France against New Zealand, was viewed by approximately 17 million people; only the 2011 final between the same countries has attracted a higher audience in the history of the tournament.
Significant viewership figures have also been documented: 13.8 million in Japan tuned in to witness their champions defeat Chile, while 1.4 million in the Republic of Ireland watched the exploits of Sexton and company against South Africa – the highest figure for any RTE channel program in 2023.
The sport’s governing bodies are currently faced with the challenge of converting that captivated audience into active participants. Rugby, despite experiencing a surge in prominence in North America and other regions, is, in general, a declining grassroots sport.
Rugby’s participation levels were effectively halved in England in 2021, when the number of active participants dropped from 259,000 in 2016 to 133,000, a country that is typically a rugby hotbed. Thankfully, this number has since increased to 196,000 in 2022, and worldwide rugby participation will increase by 11% in 2023.
Therefore, efforts must continue to be made to restore the sport to its former splendor. However, one thing is certain: those observing from their armchairs have an insatiable appetite for the Rugby World Cup.