As part of a groundbreaking partnership for sport in the UK, the 1895 Cup will become the latest Rugby Football League competition to be shown on Twitch when the First Round match between former Wembley winners Hunslet and Workington Town is streamed live this weekend.
Twitch is the leading service and community for multiplayer entertainment, and has been showcasing the sport of Rugby League to a new, younger audience. The service offers an alternative, interactive opportunity for current supporters to watch and engage with live matches, with the Women’s Super League fixture between Wigan and St Helens providing a fitting kick-off last month.
Two more WSL games have been streamed – St Helens versus Bradford Bulls, followed by last Sunday’s Castleford-Leeds clash – and already there have been more than 300,000 views of the four RFL games shown on Twitch, also including the first match of the Academy Origin series between Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Twitch will show the remaining two matches of the Academy series, which continues at the Betfred Championship Summer Bash in Blackpool later this month, plus further WSL games and ties from all rounds including the Semi-Finals of the 1895 Cup – sharing the coverage with the RFL’s Our League membership app.
This weekend knockout Rugby League takes centre stage, with Saturday’s 1895 Cup tie from the South Leeds Stadium followed by the West Yorkshire derby between Featherstone Lionesses and Stanningley in the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup on Sunday afternoon.
“The sports broadcasting landscape is so dynamic, and the reach of Twitch shows that it has a big appeal to young audiences,” said Mark Foster, the RFL’s Chief Commercial Officer.
“Twitch’s 15 million daily unique visitors represent a hard-to-reach young and digital-native audience, so we wanted to be the first sport in the UK to be live on Twitch to achieve another first for Rugby League.
“Now we’re broadcasting our own games through Our League, it makes sense for us to make some of those games available through Twitch and other social media platforms, to expose Rugby League to a wider audience. We know it’s a great game to watch so the more we can engage a younger audience with it in the way they choose to consume their entertainment, the better for our future.
“From the first Women’s Super League game between Wigan and Saints, there has been a really positive response to all our matches, both from Rugby League fans who were pleased to see the game on Twitch, and also from new people who were either watching the sport for the first time or engaging with it for the first time in years.
“To have over 300,000 views for the first four games is a really exciting and encouraging start, and we’re excited about working with Twitch to develop our relationship. “The 1895 Cup is a great way for us to show the quality of Rugby League on offer from the Betfred Championship and League One clubs – especially with the reward of a Wembley place in the Final in August.
“With membership of Our League now approaching 104,000, we’re really seeing the value of developing our own OTT platform.” Farhan Ahmed, Twitch’s Strategic Partnerships Manager, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Rugby League to present sports content in a new way to the next generation of sports fans. We’re looking to grow our sports category over the coming years, and it’s exciting that Rugby League will be a part of it.”
To watch Rugby League this weekend on Twitch – Hunslet v Workington Town on Saturday in the 1895 Cup, and Featherstone Lionesses v Stanningley on Sunday in the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup – as well as all other Rugby League content on Twitch, go to the RFL Twitch account and subscribe www.twitch.tv/rugbyleague.