There has long been a view that if Rugby was to ever fully take off in the United States it could rapidly become a world power to challenge the All Blacks.
The likelihood of that now happening has just increased with news of a major TV deal signed between NBC Sports and the English Aviva Premiership.
The station will show this weekend’s historic first Premiership match to take place on US soil when London Irish take on Saracens at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey and it will show 24 games per season on its pay per view service in each of the three seasons starting later this year.
An additional 50 games will be available to the sports growing fan base in the US over streaming.
There is no professional version of American Football beyond the very elite of the NFL and nowhere for high school kids to go when they leave with a physical bulk that would be well suited to Rugby
The US declined to enter the bid process for the 2023 Rugby World Cup but it is understood that was a precursor to making a major bid for the 2027 version. A new audience, ingrained in contact sport would be manna from heaven for World Rugby and the sponsors it attracts to the World Cup.
With the growing power of the far east and now the US on the horizon it is unlikely to see the tournament return to Europe for some time making it doubly crucial that Ireland win’s the bid process, which it is favoured to do to host the tournament in 2023.
The deal follows NBC’s success with last year’s Rugby World Cup which broke new records in terms of the numbers tuning in. The advent of the sport in sevens format at this year’s Olympic Games will also attract US interest.
“This new agreement with NBC Sports Group is an historic milestone for us,” said Mark McCafferty, chief executive at Premiership Rugby. “It takes the Aviva Premiership Rugby brand to a bigger audience than we have ever had in the US.”
“NBC Sports Group’s reputation precedes itself, – as the established US television home of the Olympics, the home of Sunday Night Football, the number one show in primetime in the US, and the US home of the Premier League.”
Ireland will play the All Blacks in Chicago later this year in a sponsored event arranged and supported by AIG.
It will be interesting to see next whether the Guinness Pro12, with it’s strong Irish and Scottish presence may also find a TV home on the other side of the Atlantic.