Universal Sports Network Takes Rugby Over-the-Top

Taking full advantage of its digital distribution rights, Universal Sports Network has launched an exclusive over-the-top, pay-per-view offering that will stream all 48 matches of Rugby World Cup 2015 in high-definition. 

Universal Sports, through a partnership with multiscreen video platform specialist 1 Mainstream, said fans can buy the full tournament package for $199.99, or purchase individual matches for $27.95 each. Matches purchased online will be available for delayed or replay viewing following RWC 2015 until December 1, 2015.

The full tournament package will offer about 110 streaming hours of live matches in HD format, and will be offered on several platforms, including Web browsers (at RWC2015ppv.com), select connected TVs, iOS and Android smartphones, and Roku players and Roku TVs. Universal Sports is offering the OTT package in the U.S. and in U.S. territories.

The six-week tournament kicks off September 18 as host England takes on Fiji in London. The tournament final is slated to kick off Saturday, Oct. 31, at noon ET.

On the traditional broadcast side of the TV ledger, Universal Sports Network will air seven matches, and NBC will air two. Individual matches also will be available live on a residential TV pay-per-view basis from cable and satellite providers. Television PPV affiliates and availability will be announced in mid-August, according to USN, a partnership NBC Sports and InterMedia Partners LP.

“Universal Sports Network will offer more access points to watch the Rugby World Cup in the United States than ever before,” said Scott Brown, president of Universal Sports Network, in a statement. “This new over-the-top product enables us to deliver one of the biggest sporting events in the world across multiple platforms allowing fans to follow every minute of the action from England.”

Universal Sports Network acquired multi-platform media rights to the Rugby World Cup in a multi-year deal with World Rugby prior to the 2011 edition in New Zealand, which drew a cumulative global TV audience (207 territories) of about 3.7 billion.