- Sky New Zealand secures exclusive rights for every World Rugby major event through to 2029, including Rugby World Cups, WXV and sevens
- RugbyPass acquisition reflects World Rugby’s mission to grow rugby interest by being more relevant to more young people more of the time
- World Rugby transforming its business model to turbocharge the growth of the sport over the next decade
World Rugby has acquired RugbyPass (www.rugbypass.com) and its global stable of digital properties as part of a wide-ranging rights deal with Sky New Zealand announced today.
RugbyPass is an established destination for rugby fans across the globe, with comprehensive rugby news, analysis, shows, highlights, podcasts, documentaries, fixtures and results, and much more, and currently has a combined monthly audience of more than seven million across its properties.
The deal represents a landmark step in World Rugby’s strategic mission to grow the sport globally by accelerating its direct-to-consumer offering, including content, streaming and programming services to establish a deeper relationship with fans, growing rugby’s popularity across the globe.
Within the unprecedented rights deal, Sky New Zealand will underscore its place as New Zealand’s destination for World Rugby events and content between 2023 and 2029. This includes every men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup, the new WXV women’s 15s competition and the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. This also includes a joint approach to the production of exclusive programming, particularly in the women’s game, a strategic priority for both parties.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “World Rugby’s mission is to grow the global rugby family. To do that, rugby must be more accessible and more relevant to more people more of the time and we must create deeper relationships with those who love the game, those who are casual fans and those who are yet to discover our sport.
“This deal reflects that mission. Supported by our Executive Board, we are undertaking a significant business transformation to better enable World Rugby to lead the growth of the sport through the establishment of a dedicated events and entertainment business which will oversee the running of the joint venture entities responsible for every men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup between 2025 and 2033, WXV and the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
“RugbyPass is an established destination within rugby in terms of the audience footprint it generates on its own channels and, with our combined support and access to content, is perfectly positioned to grow exponentially, providing the platform to accelerate rugby’s advancement in emerging markets.
“We are excited by this deal and its potential to unify a very fragmented rights environment and support our unions by creating an engaged and unified audience that benefits everyone. I would like to thank Sky New Zealand for helping make this possible, and look forward to working in partnership with them to deliver our premium competitions to New Zealanders, and to working with our wider stakeholders and the RugbyPass team to supercharge rugby’s reach and engagement.”
Sky New Zealand Chief Executive Sophie Moloney added: “Sky’s goal is to connect New Zealanders with the sport and entertainment they love, in ways that work for them. This deal secures exclusive access to all of World Rugby’s premium competitions for many years, and we are thrilled to be able to offer them to all New Zealanders on the Sky Box, our streaming services and free-to-air.
“The partnership includes an agreement to co-produce some exciting new programming with an emphasis on the women’s game, a strategic priority for both Sky and World Rugby. We look forward to working together to tell stories that motivate, inspire and challenge.”
RugbyPass Interim CEO Hazel Dodd added: “The acquisition of our digital brands and platforms by World Rugby is a win-win for both parties, strengthening our combined content creation capabilities and doubling our audience reach. RugbyPass is all about bringing fans closer to the game, telling the stories that matter in an authentic and entertaining way. With World Rugby’s backing, we will now be able to bring more of those stories to life, reinforcing our position in core markets and making in-roads into new rugby markets.”
World Rugby does not intend to change RugbyPass’s authentic and impactful editorial tone, ensuring independence from the international federation’s existing corporate channels.