The average live weekend TV audience was 358,000 across the season with a further 434,000 watching highlights on the ITV network.
BT Sport is free of charge to anyone with a BT broadband service and they rare the largest provider in the UK.
The rise in viewing also filtered through to live attendance with a 3% rise recorded in people going to the games as well.
“A combined season audience of 7.88 million watched Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs live on BT Sport this season, compared to 6.14 million for the same period last year,” said Dominic Hayes, Commercial Director of Premiership Rugby.
“We expected to see a rise after moving our live TV coverage to BT Sport, but this increase is beyond anyone’s projections.”
“The numbers from pubs and clubs, and through BT Sport’s app and website, are in addition to this – so the total TV audience is actually much higher.”
- The average match audience is now 119,000, up 38% on last season
- The weekend average live audience is now 358,000, 40% up on last year
- 7.88 million have watched Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs live on BT Sport this season, compared to 6.14 million for the same period last year
- ITV Weekend Audience 434,000, up 6% on this time last season
- Combined weekend audience of 792,000
- Figures are based on all individuals average audience
The rise in TV audiences is also reflected in the digital reach of Aviva Premiership Rugby with particular success after the relaunch of Premiership Rugby’s YouTube channel at the start of the season.
- Premiership Rugby’s YouTube channel – 2.99 million views, up 122% on last season
- Premiership Rugby Eplayer channel – 32.9 million views, up 141% on last season
- Premiership Rugby TV – 369,000 video views with 245,000 unique users.
English Rugby operates a salary cap which has prevented clubs attracting the very best talent as in the case of the Premier League in soccer.
Home players have largely been encouraged to stay because of next year’s Rugby World Cup but there is a sense that after that either those players will migrate to France or the cap will be lifted. If the latter is the case it will create further pressure on Irish provinces attracting and retaining the talent that has lifted them to such a strong position.