irbsevens.com and James Mortimer 20.Mar.2013Getty Images
The International Rugby Board has announced that the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on 22-24 March will be aired live by 23 broadcasters in 144 countries, a new record for a single round of the Series, outstripping the previous highest in Dubai earlier this season.
Nineteen nations have competed so far on the 2012/13 Series with a further nine to take the stage in Hong Kong, where a 12-team pre-qualifying competition takes place alongside the main 16-team draw, increasing the number of key matches and the appeal for broadcasters.
In the host territory, Fox Asia (previously ESPN Star) will broadcast live action throughout the region, while OSN also goes out across the Middle East; in the Americas NBC will broadcast action in the USA and Rogers Sports Net in Canada, while ESPN serves South America and Bandsport specifically Brazil; SKY Sports will air live action in the UK and Supersport will take pictures throughout Africa, while in Oceania Sky NZ will broadcast uninterrupted in New Zealand and other takers will serve the likes of Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
Just past the halfway stage, the HSBC Sevens World Series 2012/13 has proved highly competitive with five different nations taking the Cup titles at the five rounds played in Australia, Dubai, South Africa, New Zealand and USA.
So far this season there has been a 10% overall increase in live broadcasters and a 5% increase in live audience, with a further 16 broadcasters either taking coverage delayed-live or showing the official ‘IRB Sevens World’ highlights programme.
The IRB’s Tournament Director, Beth Coalter, said: “These numbers are hugely encouraging, not only for the IRB and the Hong Kong Union but for all of our host tournaments and participating unions around the world.
“With the Rugby World Cup Sevens also fast-approaching in Moscow this June, 2013 is a massive year for the Rugby Sevens and once again the Hong Kong tournament is giving us magnificent exposure.
“Longer term, the numbers show that Sevens is a sport still growing towards its first Olympic Games and still enjoying a steep upward curve in terms of appeal with broadcasters and sponsors, and most importantly with the sporting public.”
The Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens takes place on 22-24 March, followed a week later by round 7, the Tokyo Sevens on 30-31 March.
Please note that in New Zealand all action will be LIVE on the Rugby Channel, with Sky Sports 1,2 and 3 showing highlights throughout the weekend.
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