English Rugby bosses were celebrating today after their broadcast deal with BT Sport boosted TV audiences for the sport.
A combined audience of 7.88 million watched live coverage of Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs across the first 22 rounds – up more than 1.7m on the same period last year.
The biggest audience was achieved in October when 276,000 viewers watched London Wasps take on Leicester Tigers.
Audiences will have been boosted by BT’s decision to drop its paywall and show some games free to air on Sky and Virgin Media.
“We expected to see a rise after moving our live TV coverage to BT Sport, but this increase is beyond anyone’s projections,” said Dominic Hayes, the Commercial Director at Premiership Rugby in a statement.
“We firmly believe that the Aviva Premiership is the most exciting and compelling domestic league in the world and these figures prove that it is a very appealing TV proposition.”
In addition to higher TV audiences, there’s been a 3% rise in attendances at matches.
The Aviva Premiership Rugby Final will be shown live on BT Sport on 31st May.