FloSports, the US-based over-the-top (OTT) sports subscription service, has secured exclusive rights to both club-based and international top-tier rugby union from the southern hemisphere for the next three years through to 2025.
FloSports has secured the rights through a deal with SANZAAR, the code’s governing body in the southern hemisphere.
The deal covers premium national team competitions such as the Rugby Championship, contested by the national teams of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, as well as the franchise-based Super Rugby, involving clubs from the same countries.
Coverage, which will be provided by the FloRugby linear and online platforms, as well as by the FloSports mobile app, will also include home international matches between those national teams and northern hemisphere sides such as England, Wales, France, and Scotland, as well as the various domestic competitions from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
The deal marks a renewal of rights for the Rugby Championship, which FloSports first held last year, but new arrangements for the other competitions.
In recent years, sports broadcasting giant ESPN, national network NBC, and OTT streaming service FuboTV, have provided US coverage of top-tier southern hemisphere rugby union action.
The deal significantly adds to FloSports’ rugby portfolio, which already contains the Autumn Nations Series, the games played in October and November each year in Europe and the UK as the northern hemisphere sides play host to their SANZAAR counterparts.
Brendan Morris, chief executive of SANZAAR, said: “The rugby community in the US is growing day by day and we are delighted that FloRugby will deliver world-class action from these prestigious southern hemisphere tournaments … We know fans in the US will be excited they have easy access to this action.”
Ryan Fenton, director of rights acquisition at FloSports, added: “The variety in our rugby content programming offers fans a wide range of events featuring the world’s most talented players in both the men’s and women’s game, and we’re excited for the number of prestigious competitions taking place this year.”
This year’s Super Rugby Pacific competition will comprise 91 matches played by teams from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and the Pacific Islands, while FloRugby will also cover the NPC domestic championship from New Zealand and the equivalent Currie Cup in South Africa.
This year's international matches to be covered, meanwhile, outside the Rugby Championship, include Argentina vs. Scotland, Australia vs. England, South Africa vs. Wales, and New Zealand vs. Ireland, all set to take place in July and August.
The deal “represents the continuation of notable investment by FloSports to enhance the visibility of [rugby union] in the US”, the OTT platform has said.
The exclusive deal to secure Autumn Nations Series streaming rights was first struck in 2020, with an extension last year taking the agreement through to 2023.
FloSports launched its rugby vertical in 2018, meanwhile, by acquiring the Rugby Channel, the OTT digital site ultimately owned by the USA Rugby domestic governing body, in May that year.
SANZAAR, meanwhile, last struck a multi-year, all-encompassing media rights deal in a key location in May last year, when French pay-TV broadcaster Canal Plus renewed its rights deal with the governing body in a multi-year arrangement.
Canal Plus, which has shown SANZAAR competitions in France, Andorra, and France's overseas territories since 1996, will continue to have rights to the Rugby Championship, Super Rugby, and the home tests played by the southern hemisphere’s four powerhouse countries.