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27 Nov 2019

Social and digital media records smashed at Rugby World Cup

This year’s Rugby World Cup, held in Japan, set various records for viewership of social and digital media content, it was announced today.

World Rugby, rugby union’s international governing body, said that there were 2.1 billion views of video content, of which 54 per cent were via its own channels.

The total figure was more than six times that achieved for the 2015 tournament held in England, while engagement rates doubled to 6 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Rugby World Cup Daily show, distributed across World Rugby’s digital platforms every day during the tournament and sponsored by worldwide partner Land Rover, was viewed 11 million times.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup, the first to be staged in Asia, culminated on 2 November, with South Africa beating England in the final.

Across the event there were 153.5 million page views of the official website at www.rugbyworldcup.com, of which more than half came from the host country Japan whose national team reached the knockout stage for the first time.

On social media platforms there was an increase of 1.8 million followers, with 48 per cent and 29 per cent of growth coming from Instagram and YouTube respectively, and followers on Japanese channels rose by 128 per cent over the six-week tournament.

World Rugby’s social media channels attracted 45 million engagements, of which nearly 40 per cent were on Instagram, at an engagement rate of 22 per cent, and 13 YouTube videos delivered more than a million views each, up from just three in 2015.

There were more than 5.5 million tweets with #RWC2019, with engagement particularly prominent in Asia and USA, as well as established rugby nations.

The governing body claimed to have prioritised reaching a younger audience via social media platforms, with TikTok, Giphy and Snapchat also offering tournament content.

World Rugby’s collaboration with Chinese app TikTok, entitled #RugbyFever, generated 186.1 million views, with Japan and Cambodia in the top five countries, and 45 per cent of all views coming from female followers.

Meanwhile, views on US platform Giphy totalled 944.5 million, and there were 94.4 million video views on Snapchat, with 68 per cent of the audience aged between 13 and 24, the largest audience being that from USA and the average watch time nearly doubling, from 36 seconds to 1 minute, between the start and finish of the tournament.

During the World Cup there were 1.2 million new downloads of the official app, with one in five deriving from Asia, and over 150 million screen views.

The most-watched video across World Rugby digital channels was the haka, the ceremonial war dance, performed by New Zealand ahead of their semi-final against England, with 22 million views.

Acclaiming the social and digital figures, Brett Gosper, the chief executive of World Rugby, said: “The growth in global engagement, coupled with these record-breaking outcomes overwhelmingly demonstrate the power of rugby to inspire an enormous new global audience as well as a clear appetite of fans to engage with much more than just match content."

The next World Cup takes place in France, in 2023.

Sportcal