Summary:

UK tournament rightsholder ITV (LSE: ITV) will try to reach rugby fans at the office and on mobile because this year’s Rugby World Cup in Ne…

Webb Ellis Rugby World Cup Trophy

UK tournament rightsholder ITV (LSE: ITV) will try to reach rugby fans at the office and on mobile because this year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand takes place way outside of UK prime time.

Many matches during the tournament, which runs September 9 to October 23, take place in UK early hours or during morning office hours.

That will limit the TV commercial potential of a competition that is already less impactful than soccer’s World Cup, for example.

And, for rugby viewers who would rather watch live than wait for ITV’s prime-time highlights transmissions, it could make out-of-home viewing and catch-up as important as throwing a sickie to stay home.

  • ITV will be offering a new iPhone app carrying live streams and highlights of every match, made free by ITV’s multi-platform tournament sponsor IBM
  • ITV will air every match live on ITV.com, alongside a live fan chat.
  • Each match will be available on-demand, both in full and as highlights, on the multi-platform ITV Player.
  • ITV.com will also host extended interviews, extra analysis and video blogs, plus news and archive clips.
  • ITV will also try to mobilise social media engagement by allowing fans to display their team colours on Twitter and Facebook.

Meanwhile, ESPN (NYSE: DIS), which airs through ESPN Classic old RWC matches for which it has archive rights, will deploy ESPNScrum.com for this year’s effort…

  • The site will run live match scores and text commentary, from a team in New Zealand led by editor Graham Jenkins.
  • The site will run video, audio, news, analysis and interviews from around this year’s tournament.
  • It will also re-run short ESPN Classic’s clips of historical RWC matches.
  • England hooker Steve Thompson will write a weekly column for the site from inside the team camp.
  • The ESPNScrum Fantasy game will be available in English and Spanish, allowing users to face off by picking the ultimate team.

With just a week to go, however, ITV.com’s Rugby World Cup site so far carries no IBM mentions, and the most prominent banner ads on ESPNScrum.com’s tournament section are for other ESPN properties. Update: ESPNScrum.com has now got Land Rover and ITV itself as sponsors.

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