Universal Sports Network and NBC Sports Group will broadcast nine out of 48 matches from the Rugby World Cup that starts later this month, including live coverage of all of Team USA’s matches in pool play, along with the Cup semifinals and finals.
The global tournament kicks off in England September 18 and wraps up October 31, with 20 teams doing battle.
Universal Sports and NBC Sports Group will present more than 23 hours of broadcast coverage and more than 121 hours of live streaming. Live pay-per-view streaming of all 48 matches is available exclusively through Universal Sports’ WatchRWC2015 over-the-top platform for $199.99. Additionally, UniversalSports.com will stream all Universal Sports coverage and NBC Sports Live Extra will stream all NBC telecasts.
Universal Sports will air the opening ceremony followed by England versus Fiji from Twickenham Stadium outside London September 18, as well as the U.S. matches. NBC will broadcast the October 24 semifinal match one week before live coverage of the World Cup Final on Saturday, October 31 at 12 p.m. ET. Broadcast coverage will feature a studio pre-game show plus halftime and post-game analysis.
A global television audience of 4 billion is expected to watch the Cup, according to NBC Sports.
“The Rugby World Cup is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world and we are excited to offer extensive viewing options in the U.S.,” said Universal Sports Network senior VP, production Dean Walker. “The power and physicality of rugby is perfect for the American sports fan, and we look forward to using our massive depth of rugby knowledge to introduce the sport to new viewers while satisfying our hard core fan base.”
The U.S. team, known as the Eagles, faces Samoa September 20, Scotland September 27, South Africa October 7 and Japan October 11. It would require something of a miracle for the Eagles to advance to the later rounds; the team would be elated to come away with a pair of wins.
Cup favorites include the fearsome All Blacks of New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and host England. New Zealand won it all in 2011.
A faster version of the game, called sevens rugby, will be played in the 2016 Summer Olympics. The U.S. is much more competitive in that version than the 15-per-side game played in the World Cup.