A little more than a year ago, the World Cup was the first major tournament in history to be played in an online format.
It was also the first to be held in Australia.
Since then, online viewing has exploded in popularity, and it is no surprise that the Rugby Championship has also seen huge growth in terms of engagement.
“This is a game that has been around for a long time, and there’s been a big growth in the popularity of the sport,” Rugby League Australia chief executive Matt Gaudreau said.
“There’s a lot of good people around the world, it’s a good crowd of people watching, and that has given the game a great boost.”
Rugby League Australia’s goal is to give people access to a live, high quality match in a timely and accessible way.
“That means we have to deliver the best possible online experience, with a range of channels that include Facebook Live, Vimeo, Twitter and other platforms.”
It’s a bit of a big shift, but I think it’s something that we can all be proud of.
“The competition is in a good place and we’re getting a lot more coverage and a lot less blackout.”
Live online coverage in a convenient format, as seen by the Rugby League World Cup final, can’t be replicated across platforms.
So, what are the key elements that will be key to the growth of the live broadcast for Rugby League?
“A lot of the games we play are streamed live and it’s very simple to watch,” Gaudrey said.
A lot can be learned from the competition’s first two finals games.
First up, we have the World Club Challenge.
The first of two major Rugby League Championship tournaments to be broadcast live on a national TV channel, the 2017 World Club Championship took place in Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium.
It saw the Australian side take on the New Zealand All Blacks, and featured a thrilling clash between two of the best clubs in the world.
“We have seen the potential for live online coverage of the World Championships, but it’s only in the past few years that we’ve seen live live coverage in the way that we see it now,” Gudreau said of the 2017 event.
“So it’s been interesting to watch how it has evolved and where it is today.”
Live coverage of all the major Rugby league championships is a critical component for attracting fans to the game.
“Live coverage is key to bringing a new audience to the sport, so it’s crucial that we deliver it in a way that works for everyone,” Geddreau said, citing a number of factors.
“A huge part of what we are trying to do is provide an opportunity for the players, the fans and everyone involved in the game to get to know each other, and to connect with the players on the pitch.”
The 2018 Rugby League Grand Final was also streamed live online in a similar way, as it was broadcast live in Brisbane on the Gold Coast.
“Every single aspect of our coverage is important, so we need to be very conscious of what is being broadcast, what’s not being broadcast and how to make it a seamless experience for people,” Gidderson said.
The key is getting the best live streamers in the business.
“Our approach has always been to give the best quality for the fans, but also to provide the best game for the broadcasters,” Gaddreson said, noting that the competition also has a team of experienced broadcasters.
“They have all had the experience and expertise in live sport broadcasting and we have all taken that into account.”
“We’re also trying to be as transparent as we can with the audience, so the fact that you have to pay to watch something, we don’t want to discourage them from going to the site.”
But you have access to all the information we’re trying to provide.
“The challenge is that while it is possible to stream the finals on any platform, it is far from impossible to find a streamer willing to stream your match live.
So what can you do to keep your subscription happy?”
If you’re a subscriber and you’re not sure if your favourite match is live or not, you can always sign up for our free trial,” Gadresson said.
And if you’re really keen to try something different, you may want to try and sign up to a free trial of a new streaming service.”
If there’s something you’re interested in and you don’t see the match on TV, then you can sign up and start streaming on your free trial and you’ll have access and you can watch live and you won’t have to worry about the subscription.
“The Rugby League live stream is currently available to all players, fans and broadcasters, with all games scheduled to be available in the coming months.
The Rugby Championship’s broadcast is broadcast live from all around the globe and will be available to subscribers globally from Monday September 13.