beIN SPORTS secures RWC rights for SE Asia

HONG KONG: Fans across key countries in Asia will have unprecedented access to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan after World Rugby announced the appointment of beIN Asia Pacific as exclusive rights holders for Cambodia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Singapore.

For the first time, all 48 tournament matches will be available via a dedicated channel – beIN Sports Rugby – which will launch on 6 September. With beIN’s renowned sports production to the fore, the channel will be packed with news, views, analysis, highlights and special features, bring fans in the world’s most populous and youthful region closer to the action.

Japan 2019 is set to be the most impactful Rugby World Cup in history. As the eyes of the world are turned to Japan 2019, every effort is being made to grasp this once in a lifetime opportunity to create a lasting impact.

The Asia broadcast platform is an important pillar of the Impact Beyond tournament legacy programme, ensuring a wide reach to attract and convert new audiences into fans during the tournament.

There has never been a more exciting time for rugby in Asia with fan-engagement, broadcast audiences and player participation numbers growing year-on-year. According to Nielsen research Asia is home to a rugby following of more than 283 million, the largest regional following in the world.

The Philippines is at the heart of the success story with a following of 10.5 million, while Indonesia’s rugby following has increased by three per cent from 2017-18 with a following of almost 7.5 million. Hong Kong and Singapore have a rugby following of two million each, with the latter having experienced a two per cent year-on-year increase.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “We are delighted to be welcoming beIN Asia Pacific to the Rugby World Cup 2019 rights-holding broadcast family. As home region for the tournament, Asia is a very important market for rugby participation and fanbase growth and we are excited about the comprehensive platform that will be provided by beIN, a passionate leader in sport’s broadcasting. In partnership with them we will reach and convert a new fanbase, benefitting the sport long after the tournament has finished.”

beIN Asia Pacific managing director Mike Kerr added: “The rugby fanbase in Asia has grown considerably since the last Rugby World Cup. With the tournament set in Asia for the very first time, it will be an amazing spectacle and a game-changer for the sport. We are incredibly excited to be a part of this momentous event and are committed to bringing high-quality coverage and enhancing fans’ experience across beIN’s multiple touchpoints.”

The Rugby World Cup 2019 Impact Beyond programme sets out ambitious rugby accessibility and growth programmes for Asia. With 43 days to go, the programme, run in partnership with Asia Rugby and the Japan Rugby Football Union, has already exceeded its target of one million new players across the region with 1.16 million girls and boys introduced to the sport, including more than 200,000 in Japan.