First National TV Partnership In Domestic Professional Rugby
by Glen Richardson
Major League Rugby (MLR) and CBS Sports Network have announced an exclusive, multi-year television partnership. CBS Sports Network will televise the inaugural season of the new start-up league beginning in April 2018, marking the first national television partnership in the history of American professional rugby.
The Glendale Raptors who call Infinity Park their home were founded in 2007 and now, 11 years later, will be broadcast to all homes carrying the CBS Sports Network. “We are thrilled to announce this partnership,” said Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon. “The exposure this will give our city is another way we are building upon the vision we had over a decade ago.”
CBS Sports Network will televise a 13-game package with 10 weeks of regular season coverage — highlighted by a Major League Rugby Game of the Week — and two weeks of postseason coverage in 2018, including the semifinals and the first MLR Championship Game.
“We look forward to being the television home of Major League Rugby,” said Dan Weinberg, Executive Vice President of Programming, CBS Sports. “MLR will showcase the speed, power and agility of this exciting sport and we are excited for the launch in April.”
“Partnering with CBS Sports Network is a great step for Major League Rugby and for the sport of rugby in America,” said Major League Rugby Commissioner Dean Howes. “There is no question that rugby is growing fast in the U.S. market. A successful professional league is a critical component of that growth. Television partnerships are incredibly important to any professional league, and we are excited to chart a path to success together with CBS Sports Network.”
Major League Rugby will launch with seven teams in Austin, Houston, Glendale (Colorado), New Orleans, San Diego, Seattle and Salt Lake City (Utah). Each is a key rugby market with a long history of support for the game. 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.