Rugby fans will be more involved with this year’s Rugby World Cup than ever before

Rugby World Cup 2007 

Television, broadband, mobile and community web sites will all be taking their piece of the meaty Rugby World Cup pie over the next 6 weeks meaning that the 2007 Rugby World Cup will be the most interactive in its 20-year history.

The significant media offering witnesses a shift away from the traditional 2-hour television slot, to an ‘anywhere, any place’ offering where the fan can create their own ‘personal prime time’, effectively a chance for them to engage in the event at a time and place that’s convenient to them.  Community or social media sites such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook have taken off at a considerable pace (and show no signs of slowing) and sports social network sites are now following suit.

The new breed of sports community sites not only let you engage in the action of the event but allow you to share comments and views, effectively ‘argue the toss of the coin’, ‘debate was it or wasn’t it a try’ with other sports nuts – and that’s exactly what The Rugby Blog will be offering over the World Cup period.

As well as featuring regular articles, results and polls, fans will be able to post their views on the action, comment on each others’ opinions and share their pictures and video clips.  The site will feature a fans gallery, where people can submit photographs online, or by MMS if they are in the thick of the action in France.  The Rugby Blog is also accessible from mobile phones, from where users will be able to read and post content, so there will be no excuse to miss out on the action. 

What does this mean for sponsors?

Such a deep level of interaction with the event is good news for Rugby World Cup sponsors. Yes, the media landscape and traditional audience has become fragmented but never before have sponsors been able to target the ‘edgy’ youth audience in such a powerful way.

A recent survey conducted by Yahoo and Carat North America found that the web trumps television, radio and books among young adults.  Those surveyed spent an average of 16.7 hours online per week, excluding email – the next most popular medium was television, which respondents turned to for 13.6 hours per week. This is powerful information for the likes of Powerade, adidas, Heineken and Orange, all investors in the Rugby World Cup and all trying to target this ‘hard-to-reach’ demographic.

The opportunity to create an edgy, distinctive web campaign with social network users through the power of ‘Word of Mouth’ (WOM) is enormous.  The Keller Fay Group estimates that we participate in 71 WOM conversations about products and services each week, containing 22 distinct brand mentions. When you look at the youth market they are twice as prolific as the average person, engaging in 145 WOM conversations but more importantly 77 distinct brand mentions. And where do they do this?  Well, 20% of these conversations occur online through blogs, chatrooms, emails and messaging.

Where can you follow the action?

Look no further than but in case you want to watch the odd game on TV or at work on the web then ITV will be broadcasting each of the 48 matches live on ITV1, ITV3 or ITV4 and – for the first time – each match will be simulcast on

By Jon Stainer, Business Editor