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SportsPro OTT Awards: The Rugby Network Lands Two Shortlists

October 5, 2021 - Major League Rugby (MLR) News Release


SportsPro has announced the 14 shortlists for their 2021 OTT Awards. MLR's The Rugby Network has been shortlisted for two of the top awards - Platform of the Year and Best New Platform.

About The Rugby Network

A 2020 Octagon study commissioned by Major League Rugby revealed that awareness and familiarity with Major League Rugby did not always translate into TV viewership and the primary driver to increase sports fans' interest and engagement with MLR was making it easier to watch matches in North America.

MLR tackled this issue by partnering with RugbyPass to create a dedicated digital home for Rugby in North America - The Rugby Network. The Rugby Network was built around a succinct vision and purpose: To support the growth of Rugby in the US through a centralized, fan-centric approach to awareness and engagement.

MLR and RugbyPass built an interconnected network of digital properties driving interest & engagement in Rugby, guided by four key principles:

1. Free access (removing all barriers to access and eliminating piracy)

2. An Inclusive network covering all aspects of rugby in North America

3. Content that appeals to all fan segments (from avid fans to prospective fans)

4. Grow the sport and drive the business of Major League Rugby/its member teams

In just its first season, The Rugby Network exceeded all its performance goals via its website and apps on iOS, Android and Roku:

● More than 45,000 registered subscribers

● More than 10.6 million minutes of live and on-demand Rugby consumed

● Seasonal streaming audience increased 383% versus the legacy third-party OTT provider (ESPN+) with the average viewership/match rising an incredible 76% year-on-year

● Despite lower linear TV ratings, Octagon sports tracker revealed a 30% increase in the size of the overall rugby fan base and 21% increase in MLR awareness since the launch of TRN.

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