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World Rugby to stream Japan 2019 matches in markets without TV deal

World Rugby has announced plans to provide a streaming service for the forthcoming World Cup in markets where broadcast deals are not in place.

The Rugby World Cup takes place in Asia for the first time this year, with Japan hosting the tournament from September 20 to November 2, and World Rugby said the streaming service would specifically target markets in that continent.

A statement read: “Reflecting its commitment to growing the sport’s reach in Asia, World Rugby can also confirm that it will provide a streaming offering for markets where broadcast deals are not operational, meaning that everyone around the globe has access to rugby’s showcase event.”

The 2019 World Cup will be shown in host nation Japan by broadcasters J Sports, NHK, Nippon TV and DAZN in deals struck by the Dentsu agency.

The nine Asian territories covered by a recent broadcast deal with international pay-television broadcaster beIN will also be excluded from the streaming offering. These territories include Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. Free-to-air broadcaster Fiji TV holds broadcast rights to the tournament across the Pacific Islands.

The streaming announcement was made as World Rugby today (Tuesday) detailed how it plans to make the event a landmark one from a media perspective.

Japan 2019 is the first Rugby World Cup where broadcast production has been completely produced and controlled by World Rugby. International Games Broadcast Services, a joint venture between IMG and Infront-owned HBS, has been established to provide a world feed to rights-holding broadcasters.

Previously, the host broadcast duties fell to the rights-holding broadcaster in the host country.

World Rugby said Japan 2019 will reach the broadest rugby audience in history with the action broadcast to more than 800 million households in 217 territories, surpassing the 683 million homes record set for England’s tournament in 2015.

A total of 34 cameras will cover the semi-finals and the final, rising from the 28 and 23 camera plans used for other categories of matches during the six-week tournament. Four times the volume of content is planned versus that produced in 2015.

In another first for Rugby World Cup, coverage will be offered through multiple feeds in multiple formats, meaning broadcasters will have the opportunity to tailor content and transmit the tournament in UHD/4K format. Meanwhile, 8K coverage will be offered to the Japanese domestic market via public broadcaster NHK.

Augmented Reality graphics will be incorporated into the coverage and will be deployed for 34 of the 48 matches for elements such as team line-ups, player comparisons, statistics and tables. IGBS will also provide a range of content, including infographics, for the @rugbyworldcup social and digital platforms. Hawk-Eye Smart Replay technology will be used in the areas of television match officials, medical and fan-engagement.

IGBS co-project director Dan Miodownik said: “We identified the areas where we could enhance the experience and looked at the ways in which we could deliver more content and in ways that rugby viewers have not seen before. By matching World Rugby’s ambition with our experience, I believe we have achieved that objective. It is going to be an exciting project.”

World Rugby will also geo-target fans via the official tournament and app, while exclusive behind the scenes and daily digital and social media packages will be offered between matches.

To read SportBusiness’ extended interview with Tom Hill, World Rugby’s chief commercial officer, about the media and sponsorship revenues generated by the 2019 Rugby World Cup, click here.