Rugby News Focus, Looking at the lack of Super Rugby coverage in the USA & Canada so far in 2021

by Sports Benches

It is somewhat surprising for those Super Rugby fans from America. When they are unable to tune in the first three rounds of Super Rugby. Not just Australia. But also the Aotearoa version in New Zealand too.

All due to the new three to five year year contracts kicking in. When Sky NZ already the first one to do so late 2019. The same goes to SuperSport in South Africa. They might not be around Super Rugby anymore. Ever since COVID hit one year ago. And eventually transferred all of their four teams to PRO Rugby in Europe. Such as the Sharks, Stormers, Lions and Bulls.

But it does not mean they are out of the south altogether. With the Springboks still in the Rugby Championship. In which will take place later this year. So the intense rivalry v All Blacks, Pumas & Wallabies are still on. At least for another ten seasons.

And we already talked about the new Australian Rugby tv deal a lot. When the Nine Network won the exclusive rights to cover rugby late last year. Effectively ended Fox Sports’ 25 year run. And Network 10 of eight years. Every rugby game acquired is via the paid Stan streaming service. Alongside one Super Rugby game per week plus finals for free on 9Gem. Every Wallabies games live on 9. And only 4 NSW & QLD club rugby games including all finals live on 9Gem.

Sadly this new TV deal finalized so late here affects both USA & UK. Since SANZAAR is the negotiator for all these packages. Super Rugby fans over in the north were asking their respective partners. Such as Sky in the UK & ESPN in the USA. I am not sure if TSN was part of the ESPN package in Canada. So far ESPN/TSN said that they will not be covering any Super Rugby this season.

But ESPN/TSN did not make any comment about the Rugby Championship. Which does see Argentina. Since they are the current TV holders over in the South American region. It even says on the Super Rugby NZ website that ESPN is still there. But only in South America. Sounds so harsh to the ESPN/TSN North American viewers.

While in the UK RugbyPass sorted out with SANZAAR during Round 2. But only the Super Rugby version in NZ. There is no clarity about the Australian comp. With talks still ongoing. So that would mean Sky UK out of the running. Since Sky UK were airing Southern Hemisphere rugby for over 20 years. When they were operated under Fox. But now owned by NBC/Comcast. Especially with very little rugby content themselves in recent years.

Whoever wins the Super Rugby rights gets the whole package. And shove it immediately for their North American viewers. So which potential TV/Streaming networks out there to pick up the pieces.

I do not think Fox Sports will get back to rugby again. They are better off with AFL and NRL. After they showed some rugby in the past. Before they were outbid by DirectTV in 2011-2015 & later ESPN from 2016-2020. The only other two genuine bidders is either NBC or CBS. Either network have yet to cover Super Rugby/Rugby Championship. But both have plenty of other rugby content on offer.

If I was SANZAAR then CBS would be the preferred bidder. Why? It is because NBC are undergoing the same changes. We already know that NBCSN will shut down by the end of this year. And put most of their sports via Peacock. With the bigger leagues still on the USA Network. In order to satisfy their cable/satellite customers.

CBS just renamed from CBS All Access to Paramount + a few days ago. It would be a perfect time to chuck in more sport for their brand. The European soccer was already there half a year ago with great success. Followed by some North & South American soccer along the way. Why not Super Rugby AU & Aotearoa in there every week on Paramount +. Every Finals game via the CBS Sports Network. And every Test involving the SANZAAR nations on Paramount + & CBSSN. Not a official rumour. But it is only my suggestion with six to seven weeks left in this competition.

While SANZAR is still seeking a North American rights holder. As well as RugbyPass to try & have Super Rugby AU/SANZAAR tests in the UK. Make sure return on Sports Benches every week for your Super Rugby AU content. Such as the preview, review, game talk, Top 3 players & round up. So much to cover that benefits the rugby community in Australia.

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