Major League Rugby and ESPN Announce Rights Agreement
MAJOR LEAGUE RUGBY AND ESPN ANNOUNCE RIGHTS AGREEMENT
SALT LAKE CITY (March 20, 2018) – Major League Rugby (MLR) and ESPN today announced an exclusive distribution agreement for MLR’s inaugural season, launching April 2018. The deal is a vital part of providing rugby fans access to all 31 regular and postseason games of MLR’s first season, carried LIVE across all devices.
ESPN will carry an 18-game package covering regular season games to national and international audiences across its platforms. In addition to the game coverage, ESPN.com will feature MLR content creating a prominent destination for fans of rugby globally for the American startup League.
Regional sports networks in the seven markets with teams in 2018 will also broadcast the 18-game package. Earlier this fall, MLR announced a 13-game lead-television package with CBS Sports Network including coverage of the semifinals and championship game.
“We are excited to have ESPN as a partner of ours,” said Major League Rugby Commissioner, Dean Howes. “ESPN is one of the most powerful brands in sports, and we couldn’t be more pleased to provide our fans with access to MLR content through ESPN platforms.”
Major League Rugby will launch with seven teams in 2018 including Austin, Houston, Glendale (Colorado), New Orleans, San Diego, Seattle and Salt Lake City (Utah). Additionally, New York has joined as an associate member for 2018 commencing regular season play in 2019. Each market has a long history of support for the game of rugby. The members have strong local and civic-minded ownership groups with deep ties to their communities and have established grassroots programs, venues in place or in development, and a player pool featuring the best players in North America, reinforced by up to five international signings in the 15-player, Rugby Union format.
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MLR is a professional rugby league that will launch in April of 2018. It’s an initiative of the American rugby community, in partnership with private investors, who believe that American rugby can thrive at the highest levels: as a commercial enterprise; as an influential player on the international scene; and as a participation sport at the youth and senior level. MLR will be the pinnacle of the American rugby, and provide a rallying point for local communities, a focal point for American rugby fans, and an aspirational destination for young athletes.
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