Aussie telecommunications company OVO is bringing grass roots rugby union to OVOPlay, starting with a digital broadcasting deal with the Brumbies for the John I Dent Cup.
Under the agreement, the Brumbies will broadcast each match of the week from the ACT club rugby competition on OVOPlay from July.
It will also broadcast highlights, interviews and behind-the-scenes content, making it all available free-to-air for Australians and data-free for OVO subscribers.
With more club rugby organisations in talks with OVO to follow the lead set by the Brumbies, OVO is working toward introducing a self-serve production platform for grassroots rugby clubs to live broadcast and upload their own events to the platform by early 2019.
The Brumbies, which started streaming John I Dent matches in 2016, sought out OVO after seeing the success it had delivered to the likes of Water Polo Australia and Gymnastics Australia in building audience and encouraging participation in the sports.
Tom Fallaw, general manager of commercial partnerships at Brumbies Rugby, said club rugby is in the midst of a resurgence in Australia.
“The fact that we had more than 140,000 online views just in the ACT and southern NSW of John I Dent matches last year shows the size of the audience for our sport,” he said.
“We want to grow our audience and better connect with our supporters, and we know the majority of those people are watching sport on their mobiles more than any other channel.
“Our streaming to-date has been a great start, but we need a dedicated platform to take full advantage of the groundswell of interest in club rugby.
“OVO gives us the best way to get in front of the community of fans who are keen to engage with the John I Dent Cup and the Brumbies, and will enable a deeper connection between fans of rugby in this country and the competitions that make the sport great.”
OVO chief executive Matt Jones said: “The opportunity for rugby is huge, not only to get the support of a broadcasting platform to push content and attract an audience, but also with the funding and other benefits that will follow.
“We’re excited to be working with one of Australia’s best-loved sports and help build their club-level audience.
“The Brumbies have been pioneers in bringing club rugby to mobile, and we’re all set to help them capitalise on growing interest in the foundation competitions of the sport in this country.
The Brumbies will commence broadcasting current John I Dent Cup matches on OVOPlay each week from July, joining the likes of gymnastics, water polo, motorsports and esports on the platform.
All content on OVOPlay is available free to stream, and is also available data-free to OVO mobile subscribers.