- Japan’s leading sports broadcasters appointed rights-holders
- World Rugby opts for blend of free-to-air and paid TV to ensure widest-possible nationwide reach
- Current individual rugby audience record stands at 25 million for Japan v Samoa at RWC 2015
- Opening match and final to be broadcast live via all three broadcasters
Rugby World Cup 2019 is set to deliver a record domestic broadcast audience after World Rugby announced the appointment of Nippon TV, NHK and J SPORTS as broadcaster rights-holders for Japan.
The appointment of Japan’s leading sports broadcasters as rights-holders will ensure that the tournament has the widest-possible audience reach in a nation that has a population of 127 million.
In total, 31 matches will be on-free-to-air broadcast, including the opening match between Japan and Russia on 20 September, the final on 2 November and all of Japan’s matches.
With excitement building across the host nation and organisers recording impressive ticket demand ahead of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup, it is anticipated that the domestic market will return figures that will smash records set at Rugby World Cup 2015 where Japan enjoyed their best-ever campaign.
At England 2015, the cumulative audience across Japan increased by 59 million from 2011, delivering a record rugby audience of 25 million viewers for the match against Samoa. The total 15-minute reach was a record 31 million.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Rugby World Cup 2015 set new standards of rugby broadcast innovation and delivery, providing fans in a record number of nations with every unforgettable moment from the most compelling and competitive tournament to date.
“We are excited about this deal for the Japanese rights, not just because it ensures that the nation’s top sports broadcasters are involved, but that with a strong free-to-air component it will guarantee the biggest domestic broadcast footprint for a Rugby World Cup and therefore what is likely to be a record audience.
“We look forward to working in partnership with Nippon TV, NHK and J SPORTS to tell the story of what promises to be a very special and game-changing Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.”
Rugby World Cup 2015 set new viewership and coverage records in 27 markets as 16,000 hours of action was watched by 70 per cent of the viewing population in key markets underscoring World Rugby's strategy of prioritising free-to-air over pay TV in targeted markets.*
*Data from post-tournament broadcast reporting undertaken by IMG on behalf of World Rugby