The Ligue Nationale Rugby (LNR) has signed an agreement which sees TV Asahi broadcast the Top 14 in Japan from next weekend until the end of the 2021/22 season.
The media group will first show the USA Perpignan vs ASM Clermont Auvergne match on 27 November, as LNR gains exposure in Japan – a country that it described as a ‘booming rugby territory’.
René Bouscatel, President of the LNR, commented: “Every weekend, the 14 best clubs in France compete for victory and the Top 14 shines beyond our borders in countries with strong rugby roots.
“Japan and France have much in common, two countries proud of their traditions and their identity, but also two innovative countries that can count on solid sports infrastructures.”
Having hosted the last Rugby World Cup in 2019, gaining exposure in Japan lines with the LNR’s plan to promote the Top 14 around the world with a view to the next World Cup, which is taking place in France in 2023.
“By signing an agreement with TV Asahi, the Top 14 is strengthening its network by investing in a region with high potential for development, demonstrating at the same time the growing interest of our championship in the world,” Bouscatel continued.
Throughout the season, the Japanese channel will broadcast a match every day of the championship, alongside all 5 matches of the final phase of the 2021/22 season, play-offs, semi-finals, finals and grand final.
In a further growth of the sport internationally, September this year saw Irish broadcaster RTÉ and United Rugby Championship (URC) together release a streaming service that aimed to give fans the opportunity to watch games live and on-demand.
URC TV allows fans to watch all 151 home and away games, as well as highlights, archive matches and other videos at any time, and aims to provide an ‘easily accessible’ global service across multiple devices.
Such deals fit in line with the current public demand for Rugby streaming, as around the same period, it was announced that RugbyPass had experienced a ‘massive uplift’ in its viewership figures, with the total audience number exceeding four million at its peak.
The organisation stated that the British and Irish Lions Tour of South Africa represented the ‘most successful event’ for the global digital content publisher, which offered news, insights, analysis and entertainment to rugby fans throughout the six-week tour.
It was noted that broadcasts that took place from the London Walsh, Harpenden and Farnham rugby clubs reached a total viewership of 300,000, with a 24-hour peak audience of 659,550 unique users, in the aftermath of the Lions’ Second Test.