SA to Euro: Super Rugby's loss is URC's gain
STATS ATTACK: South Africa’s United Rugby Championship franchises might be struggling on the field, however, they are winning the hearts of television fans worldwide.
SA’S four franchises Lions, Bulls, Stormers and Sharks joined the newly developed European Pro Rugby competition the United Rugby Championship in 2021.
The move, which saw them swap Super Rugby for URC, was highly criticized by their Southern Hemisphere counterparts and even some fans in the North.
However, despite the inability to secure wins – albeit Lions win over the Zebre in round one – the impact of SA teams have been incredible and it is evident in television audience ratings.
The United Rugby Championship has recorded over one million viewers for a single round for the first time ever – setting a new viewership record for the league.
According to URC stats, Round one broke the previous league record and a 15 percent increase last weekend during the second round has pushed the total domestic audience beyond one million. This figure is the combination of the average viewing figures for each of the eight matches.
Average viewership across the UK, Ireland, Italy and South Africa have proven to be greater than the initial forecasts.
Of the 16 games played, the five most-watched URC games involve Welsh, Italian, Irish and South African teams with audiences across those games averaging a peak audience of 255 000 per game.
What is even more interesting is four of the top five most-watched URC games involve South African teams.
The Munster versus Stormers match played in Round Two top the charts with a peak audience of 308 000.
Sharks’ Round one defeat to Munster is second.
While Lions’ defeat to Scarlets in Round two is in fourth with a 251 200 peak.
Rounding off the top five highest audiences list is the Benetton versus Stormers match which saw a peak of 174 900 viewership.
Commenting on the big milestone Martin Anayi, CEO of United Rugby Championship, said: “To break our stated goal of one million viewers in a single round this soon is a terrific vote of confidence from our fans and is a tremendous boost to our clubs and broadcasters.
“The biggest days of the URC season are still to come and this sets a great foundation to build our audiences and grow the sport.”