The Guinness PRO14 has become the first major rugby union competition to launch its own OTT video platform.
The service will be available online and on demand in territories where there are no exclusive TV broadcast arrangements in place.
It is a move which echoes those made across other sports including the GAA with GAA Go, the NFL and the English Football Championship.
The development of streaming technology and ease of access has meant an acceleration in the quantity of sporting content that is accessible once a payment path has been established directly between the sport and consumers.
The launch of Pro14.TV comes off the back of successful streaming of Guinness PRO14 games on social media to selected territories this season and the full service will be live for this weekend’s semifinals. in Glasgow and at the RDS.
Fans will be able to choose from a range of packages including for individual games at a price of around €3.99, and a weekend pass covering all fixtures in a particular round for €6.99.
Traditional monthly and seasonal options will be launched for the 19/20 season. In addition to live, chargeable match coverage, the service will offer free registration-led access to a comprehensive library of clips, highlights, full-match replays and a range of exclusive content.
This content will be available to viewers in Ireland where the exclusive live coverage remains with eir Sport and TG4.
“Launching our own OTT video platform to reach fans around the world was a logical next step for us as we experience more demand for the Guinness PRO14 than ever before,” said Dermot Rigley, Commercial Director of PRO14 Rugby.
“To be the first major rugby union tournament to launch an OTT service is in keeping with our commitment to innovation and a commitment to embrace new technologies.”
“Since expanding the Championship into South Africa in 2017 we have experienced significant growth across all metrics including attendances, social media engagement and, of course, signing record-setting broadcast deals earlier this year.”
“We are looking forward to bringing the excitement of Guinness PRO14 rugby directly to supporters of our clubs. To deliver this we are extremely pleased to be working with StreamAMG, who have a strong track record in the sector. Their technical expertise was very much in evidence throughout the selection process.”
StreamAMG is a wholly owned subsidiary of PA Sport who bought the company in 2017.
They provide Direct to Consumer streaming and Video on Demand services to football clubs across Europe as well as to rights holders and sporting federations across Golf, Rugby, Darts and netball.
They will manage all delivery and payments to enable fans to access the live and on-demand coverage.
The days of sporting bodies going direct to their fan base with more of their news and content is drawing ever closer, albeit alongside the remaining need for mass market exposure through traditional TV and mainstream media.
Watch out for news in the coming weeks of the next in the Smart Minds Series of Sport for Business members Round Tables where we will gather those involved or looking to be so to discuss the ever-changing landscape of sports broadcasting.