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RugbyPass Expands Into China Via Alisports

RugbyPass is launching free and paid OTT services in China, as part of a major push to promote rugby in the world’s second-largest economy by sports specialist Alisports.

Alisports, majority-owned by Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, has pledged US$100 million to develop rugby in the country via a 10-year tie-up with governing bodies World Rugby and the Chinese Rugby Football Association.

This will now include a free RugbyPass service in Chinese on local video platform Youku, offering some live and VOD club and international matches.

A sibling paid service is scheduled for Q1 2017, initially in English, featuring content from both RugbyPass as well as World Rugby. The service will air all international games during the 2017 season as well as domestic competitions from around the world.

The current deal establishes Alisports as RugbyPass’ local digital partner until the end of 2017.

Discovery announced in April 2016 that it had taken a minority stake in RugbyPass, which now covers 23 Asian markets.

The service was launched in February 2016 by Coliseum Sports Media, which has also built and managed SVOD platforms for the English Premier League, the PGA Tour of America, the LPGA and the All Blacks.

Coliseum Sports Media relocated to Singapore in 2016 after starting up in New Zealand, where it combined its local assets and IP with domestic telco Spark.

Press release in full below:


RugbyPass Partners With Alisports To Extend Game’s Global Reach Into China

Singapore, 26 October 2016: RugbyPass and China’s Alisports have completed a deal which will see Alisports become the local digital partner for RugbyPass in China through to 31 December 2017.

RugbyPass intends to launch two rugby channels as part of this partnership. The first channel, which will be free for all users in China, is planned to run on a dedicated Youku rugby channel and screen selected live and video-on-demand club and international matches from the RugbyPass schedule. This channel will feature all its content in local Chinese language.

The second channel is set to be a premium subscription service, featuring the bulk of content available on the existing RugbyPass platform as well as additional World Rugby content. The paid-only channel will be officially launched in the first quarter of 2017, in time for the start of the Super Rugby tournament. This channel will feature every International game held during the 2017 season including every game of the British and Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand. It will also feature the world’s best domestic competitions including the Aviva Premiership and the European Champions Cup. The premium service will initially be broadcast in English.

“This partnership combines RugbyPass’ exclusive content rights and expertise and Alisports’ extensive reach to offer Chinese sports fans access to the world’s best rugby channel in both English and Chinese language,” says RugbyPass CEO, Tim Martin.

“Rugby has great potential to grow as both a spectator and player sport in China. Delivering access to the best Rugby content in the world on RugbyPass will play a big role in enabling that to happen,” he added. ”The two-channel strategy is key, putting free rugby content in front of a potential audience of 600 million people while those who want more or really want to follow a particular team can then subscribe to the world’s leading Rugby OTT service in RugbyPass.”

Launched in Asia in February 2016 by Singapore-based Coliseum Sports Media, RugbyPass is the world’s most in depth, premium rugby service, covering every game from every major tournament from everywhere in the world.

“Asia has a significant role to play in rugby’s future, and China is central to its long-term aspirations as a global game,” says Martin. “This deal builds on the recent partnership between World Rugby and Alisports, Singapore’s return to the World Rugby Sevens circuit, the participation of Sunwolves in this year’s Super Rugby, and the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, which all point to an exciting future for the game in terms of participation as well as viewer engagement.”

Source: Coliseum Sports Media (CSM)