The sold-out match between the USA Eagles and New Zealand All Blacks at Soldier Field on November 1st performed quite impressively from a ratings perspective on NBC. The national broadcaster reported more than one million viewers during three key, half-hour periods, while an average of 927,000 viewers tuned in to the historic match’s two-and-a-half-hour broadcast. “The figures tell a solid story. The broadcast was excellent, millions of people saw rugby played at the highest level across America, and, as a result, the game will continue to grow faster than any other team sport in the USA,” USA Rugby Chief Executive Officer Nigel Melville said.
More than 368,000 rugby-mad fans in New Zealand also viewed the live broadcast of the match, which kicked off at 9 a.m. Sunday in the “Land of the Long White Cloud.” An additional 166,000 viewers tuned in to a tape-delay presentation from Soldier Field, and fans in 127 territories were able to watch the match via live stream on AllBlacks.com/TV thanks to the support of event sponsor AIG. Build-up for the match began back in May, when USA Rugby and New Zealand Rugby held a press conference at Soldier Field.
Within a month, tickets were made available to more than 20,000 pre-registrants on the usavallblacks.com event website, and more than half of the 61,500 tickets available were sold in seven days. “We are thrilled by the engagement across the board for this historic match. As an official partner of both the USA and New Zealand sides, we are pleased with the broadcast success as an important milestone for the sport of rugby here in the US,” AIG Global Head of Sponsorship Daniel Glantz said. Online impressions on USA Rugby’s social media channels also hit record highs.
More than 300,000 page views on usarugby.org nearly downed the national governing body’s website, while two million people interacted with the official USA Rugby Facebook page. An event hashtag also trended in the States on Twitter throughout the match day. Universal Sports recently announced its planned IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 broadcast schedule, which will see all four of the Eagles’ pool matches and a select few in the remaining portion of the tournament broadcast live to viewers in the United States.
Additionally, the entirety of the event in England will be available on a pay-per-view basis.