The International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced figures showing that the Olympic sport of Rugby Sevens has gained yet more ground in the eyes of broadcasters worldwide.
The broadcast report on the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series, the first with a title sponsor, has been published by the IRB's television distribution partner Pro-Active Television and confirms that for a sixth consecutive year a record global audience switched on to Sevens.
Television broadcast coverage of the eight-tournament World Series reached 147 countries across six continents, with 34 broadcasters showing action from the Series, which was won by New Zealand.
The grand prix-style Series accumulated 3,657 hours of total airtime - 3% up on the 2009/10 season - of which 1161.5 hours went out live.
Programming from the season of Sevens was carried in 16 languages and reached 332 million homes, with an estimated potential reach in excess of 760 million.
Only six years ago, the total airtime for the World Series stood at just 300 hours. This season’s coverage amounts to over 12 times that figure, underlining the considerable advances Rugby Sevens has made in the eyes of international broadcasters and the global sporting public.
Major developments took place in the USA, where coverage was aired for the first time on NBC and NBC Universal, while broadcasters in Spain, Croatia and the Caribbean also joined the long list of takers of either live, delayed live or official IRB highlights programming.
In addition, bespoke online videos produced from each round of the Series by highlights production team 78Seventy Broadcast attracted over one million views on the official website, irbsevens.com, and Youtube.
"Rugby Sevens continues to prove a huge success with fans, broadcasters and commercial partners around the world, and is also attracting new members to the global Rugby family now that it has the ultimate seal of approval from the IOC," said IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset.
"The non-stop, highly competitive nature of the action on the pitch combined with a festival atmosphere off it continues to be the sport's winning formula.”
Giles Morgan, Group Head of Sponsorship, HSBC Holdings added: "This impressive record of growth, in addition to the half a millions fans who attended the tournaments this season, shows just how exciting and entertaining a sporting competition the HSBC Sevens World Series is. In our inaugural season as title sponsor, HSBC is delighted that more and more sports fans around the world are enjoying this world class competition."
The 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series comprised eight tournaments in Dubai, South Africa (George), New Zealand (Wellington), USA (Las Vegas), Australia (Adelaide), Hong Kong, England (London) and Scotland (Edinburgh).