Springbok World Cup winners a box office smash

According to World Rugby CEO the game is continuing to break new markets and grow.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup in France emerged as the most-watched rugby event in history, according to World Rugby, and South Africa played a pivotal role in its success.

Boasting a 19% surge in viewership compared to the 2019 tournament in Japan, the governing body revealed that last year’s showcase garnered an extraordinary 1.33 billion viewing hours (VH) across linear and non-linear broadcasts, surpassing the northern hemisphere’s 2015 edition by 30% (1.01 billion VH) and Japan 2019 by 19% (1.11 billion VH).

The Springboks, back-to-back champions and unprecedented four-time winners, contributed to the highest worldwide viewership of 481 million VH. The final between the Boks and All Blacks set a new record with 94 million VH, followed closely by the quarter-final between SA and Les Bleus, accumulating 69 million VH.

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Notably, eight of the surveyed markets experienced substantial viewership growth, challenging the global decline in linear TV. The UK neared its 2015 record with 361 million VH, while emerging rugby markets like Germany (15.2 million VH), Italy (16.1 million VH), and the USA (11.1 million VH) saw impressive growth rates of +27%, +70%, and +136%, respectively, compared to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Despite an inconvenient time zone, Japan demonstrated a massive appetite for rugby, with 86% of viewership coming from live programming.

World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin highlighted the sport’s continued growth and commitment to making rugby a global phenomenon.

“As our sport continues to grow and break new markets, we will continue to work with our broadcast partners to enhance the viewing experience, especially for new audiences, helping us achieve our vision of making rugby a global sport for all,” he added.

This story first appeared on sarugbymag.co.za. It is republished here with permission. For the original story click here.

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