Major League Rugby (MLR), the leading rugby championship in North America, has launched a free streaming and digital platform, The Rugby Network, ahead of the 2021 season.
The service has been provided in collaboration with over-the-top (OTT) platform RugbyPass and it will look to provide a range of content for rugby fans in North America.
MLR's new campaign is set to kickstart from March 20, allowing for the new platform to live stream select matches from the competition, as well as international games, highlights and exclusive behind-the-scenes content.
The launch of the new platform comes as MLR looks to grow and develop the sport across the US and Canada and it is hoped that a centralised platform will boost interest in the league and provide easy access for rugby content to help build the relationship between themselves and fans.
Speaking to Premier Sports Network in the latest edition of the On the Front Foot magazine, George Killebrew, MLR's commissioner said: "I don't think there is another sport in the world that is as ripe as rugby is to succeed in North America."
It is currently estimated that 1.3 million people participate in rugby in the US and Canada with a further 8.8 million active fans.
Killebrew added: “The Rugby Network provides rugby fans access to high-quality content for free as well as generates awareness of the sport to create the next generation of fans.
“The Rugby Network will be an exciting development for MLR and North American rugby as a whole. We are looking forward to working with RugbyPass to launch this platform that will be the definitive home for rugby fans across North America.”
Neil Martin, global chief executive at RugbyPass, added: “We share a joint vision with MLR to create a community of rugby fans and remove the hurdles they face across North America by providing them with the best news, highlights, podcasts, live matches and live blog feeds.
“The Rugby Network will be an interconnected network of digital properties that will drive both interest and engagement with rugby. Our goal is to create an inclusive platform with MLR that will bring together and expand North America’s rugby community and also serve the international rugby fans.”
Author: Jake Wilkin