Premier Sports launches rugby-focused OTT platform in Asia

Subscription broadcaster Premier Sports is launching an OTT streaming service in 22 Asian territories after acquiring rights to rugby union’s Six Nations Championship and the new Autumn Nations Cup, a new tournament organised by Six Nations Rugby and its respective national rugby unions and federations.

Premier Sports Asia will launch this weekend, having acquired rights to the rescheduled matches from the 2020 Six Nations that will be played this month and all 15 matches from the 2021 tournament.

The service will be an OTT proposition only, similar to Premier Sports’ existing Premier Player in the UK.

The platform is launching in markets including Hong Kong, the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

Premier Sports Asia has been priced at $9.99 (€8.41) per month if customers chose a six-month contract (or $19.99 per week).

The broadcaster said that it plans to add more rugby content in due course.

Mickey O’Rourke, chief executive of Premier Sports, said: “We’re excited to launch the Premier Sports Player in the Asian market with high quality international rugby tournaments at the attractive price of $9.99 per month. The Premier Player has received excellent feedback from customers in the UK and we’re sure rugby fans in Asia will enjoy the service.”

O’Rourke is a co-founder of subscription broadcaster Setanta, which also launched an Asia-Pacific arm (in 2011). Setanta Sports Asia was subsequently sold to international broadcaster Discovery in 2015 after it had been repositioned to focus on rugby.

The Setanta Sports Asia channel was replaced in recent years by the RugbyPass TV channel in various markets. RugbyPass, which operates an OTT streaming platform, held the Six Nations rights in southeast Asia in 2018 and 2019 in a two-year deal that was duly extended.

Before 2018, the rights were held by Discovery in a deal running from 2014 to 2017. Discovery acquired a minority stake in RugbyPass in 2016 but had sold it by the time New Zealand pay-television operator Sky acquired a 100-per-cent stake in RugbyPass in a $40m deal announced in August 2019.

Other territories in which Premier Sports Asia will be available include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Myanmar and Taiwan.

The Autumn Nations Cup was created in the wake of the cancelled autumn Test tours following the Covid-19 pandemic. The competition will feature the Six Nations sides (England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales), along with Georgia and Fiji.

It will run from November 13 to December 6.

Ireland face Italy this Saturday in the first of four rescheduled Six Nations fixtures.