Streaming takes North American Rugby League global

by | Oct 4, 2021

The inaugural North American Rugby League All-Star event was enjoyed by a global audience, via online broadcasting.

It meant Rugby League supporters could watch some of the best USA players in action, regardless of whether they could attend the match in person, thanks to streaming technology.

The event began with the Women’s Rugby League with Carolina Thunder v Roots Rugby. It was followed by two All-Stars teams drafted by two of USA Rugby League’s best players: 11-time USA Hawk Ryan Burroughs and 8-time USA Hawk Nick Newlin.

Elite USA players and international stars took part in the match in Kannapolis to showcase Rugby League to the country, ahead of the brand new NARL’s first season launching next year.

Control of Media Rights

The NARL partnered with TicketCo to take control of its own Media Rights and to develop its own domestic and global market.

Robert Curtis, CEO of NARL said: “Streaming helped launch us to a global market and we had viewers across the USA, in Canada, Australia and the UK. We have taken ownership of our own broadcast rights which is incredibly empowering and provides us with great scope to build our brand.

“Fans will have the option to buy streaming season passes, or individual match passes for the NARL season. Fans will be able to buy a ticket and watch a match via the same platform. This is unique in Rugby League and will help make the sport accessible.”

Mr Curtis added: “Because it is a new sport in a new market obtaining a big TV Rights deal would have been challenging, especially on the back of a pandemic. But thanks to modern technology we have taken control of our own Media Rights and can broadcast matches direct to our market and build our audience and data.”

Showcase event

The All Stars match branded ‘The Carolina Cup’ was created to help showcase Rugby League to the USA ahead of the inaugural season next year.

“It was an opportunity for people to watch the sport and see the players in action,” said Mr Curtis. “It was a great success and we’re excited about the future.”

“The streaming technology has given us increased routes to market,” he added. “Everyone has been really loyal since we had to delay the launch of the league and we wanted to put on a show to demonstrate what we can achieve together, even in COVID-19 times.”

League Level Agreement

NARL signed a multi-year league level agreement with TicketCo for hybrid matches. The season which is due to launch in May 2022 will use the cloud-based digital technology to make ticketing easy for supporters. Clubs will also have access to TicketCo Media Services to broadcast matches online globally.

“All league matches will be broadcast online,” said Mr Curtis. “The Carolina Cup was an opportunity for the clubs to see how the technology works and to further appreciate the opportunity via our partnership with TicketCo. It will give our clubs further confidence, as they now have something tangible to look at and plan from.”

NARL will be the only professional rugby league club competition in the United States and Canada, with clubs from the US and Canada taking part. The inaugural season was planned for 2021 but was moved to next year due to COVID-19.

Quality streaming technology

The NARL said they received excellent feedback on the streaming technology.

Mr Curtis said: “The platform was really easy to use and everyone was happy with it. The TicketCo team were on hand on the phone if we needed them, which was reassuring.

“We used a three or four camera set up and the quality came across really well. People were watching the match on their TVs and tablets. There was a good take up and the feedback on social media was positive.

“The match is now available via on-demand for a couple of weeks, which has provided us with an additional market to explore. It has provided those who were unable to watch the match live with the opportunity to watch it via catch-up at a time that suits them.”

TicketCo

TicketCo is a cloud-based event payment and online broadcasting company, with offices in multiple territories.

The platform’s ticketing solution provides mobile-first cashless technology that enables organisers to sell tickets and promote offers on food, drink and merchandise. Its online broadcasting service, TicketCo Media Services, is available on any device and provides a secure paywall.

In the UK it provides cashless ticketing for rugby clubs including London Broncos, Bedford Blues and Ealing Trailfinders.

Written by Greig Box Turnbull

Experienced communications and strategic PR advisor, with a strong background in journalism and public relations. Founder of Fortitude Communications, director of Oxford City ice hockey club and Vice Chair of Oxford United in the Community. A former Daily Mirror journalist and Oxford United FC managing director.

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