October 10 - All nine rounds of the upcoming 2013-2014 HSBC Rugby Sevens World Series will be streamed live online for the first time, the International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced.
Rugby fans will be able to watch uninterrupted action of each event, starting with the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia, which is due to take place this Saturday and Sunday (October 12 and 13).
The new live streaming service is only available in countries and territories where there is no prior broadcasting agreement in place with television companies.
But fans in those countries where broadcast arrangements already exist, can access delayed online coverage and highlights packages on the same day, once the live action has finished.
"This is an exciting development for sports fans and a giant leap forward in helping to satisfy the strong global demand for rugby sevens, which continues to engage new fans around the world," said the IRB's general manager for rugby sevens, Avan Lee.
"Since rugby sevens joined the Olympic programme [for Rio 2016], the game has benefited from record broadcast exposure on television, and this new step into the world of live online viewership significantly enhances our offering.
"Millions of people already watch the World Series on television around the world, and will continue to, but this online platform now gives existing and new fans the chance to see every pass, tackle and try from our showcase series.
"We've had nothing but positive feedback from the rugby family about this and we're excited to see how it goes."
The move comes on the back of the success of the live streaming from Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow, which was viewed by over 260,000 unique users over the three days, according to IRB figures.
Earlier this year, the IRB revealed global viewing figures for the 2012-2013 HSBC Rugby Sevens World Series rose by five per cent from last year, with a record 4,504 hours of total airtime across 149 territories, with 38 broadcasters airing coverage to an estimated 390 million homes.
The governing body also said that online consumption of official World Series news and information from last season was the highest ever with the official IRB Sevens website attracting more than 9.1 million page views from a user base spanning 214 countries, with 36 per cent of traffic consumed on mobile devices, while usage and fan interaction across social media platforms was also reported to have increased.
In addition, IRB Sevens World, the official magazine show, was shown by 17 broadcasters, while online video highlights packages attracted 2.5 million views on the official website and the IRB Sevens YouTube channel, which will be showing highlights and news packages again this season.
"With three years until our return to the Olympic stage in Rio we want more than ever to make rugby accessible to people everywhere, so it is with immense pride that we can now make our premium sevens product viewable in every corner of the world," said IRB President Bernard Lapasset.
"That is the universality we are striving for as we build towards 2016 and beyond."
To access the full world viewing list guide for the Sevens World Series click here.
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