Three Observations on the Six Nations Audience

07/02/2020 By Three Observations on the Six Nations Audience

This blog was originally published by Alligator, also part of the BVA Group. They put their leading digital solutions to good use by polling rugby fans ahead of the Six Nations.

Last weekend welcomed the exciting return of the Six Nations tournament. With the competition kicking off on Saturday afternoon, followed by Super Bowl Sunday, it’s safe to say that multiple members of the Alligator team were excited by the sports bonanza that lay ahead. And to honour such a great weekend, it seemed only right to shift the focus of this month’s blog to sports.

The audience figures for each Six Nations match ranges between 5 and 11 million, with an average of 8.3 million viewers (Ofcom 2010). This trend followed suit last weekend with 5.9 million UK viewers tuning in to watch England’s disappointing performance against France (Sports Pro 2020). With so many watching the rugby this weekend, we thought we would delve a little deeper into the Six Nations audience.

1. Do Six Nations viewers still enjoy a drink?

In short - yes. I for one was over the moon to welcome the tournament back with a beer in hand at the Principality Stadium on Saturday afternoon.  But recent figures from a quick poll, run via Alligator, have shown that we might be about to see a change to this trend.

With pub culture so closely linked to rugby, we were surprised to see that 50% of our rugby audience wanted stricter policies on alcohol within rugby stadiums, reflecting similar actions as seen in Premier League football grounds around the UK. However, 23% said that they categorically did not want stricter restrictions, with a further 22% saying that they did not mind. Whilst this does not change the fact that 30% of Six Nations viewers enjoy a drink more than once a week, it does make us wonder if we are about to see a shift in the current rugby culture.

2. What is the preferred method to view the Six Nations?

For many rugby fans it appears that TV is the preferred method for staying up-to-date with their sport. This increased tenfold with the Six Nations being shown on the free-to-air channels. 82% of our rugby audience declared that they will be tuning into this year’s tournament to watch the games live on their TV. A further 15% said that they would read reports or live text online, with the remaining 3% opting to listen to the games on their radios.

With companies such as Guinness, Dove and Tissot all partnering with the Six Nations, it becomes clear that TV advertisement is key to reaching a loyal rugby audience. Premium brands are chomping at the bit to lock-down this rugby market with fans’ income approximately 20% higher than the UK average. Even more enticing is the fact that 71% of this audience are social grade AB, therefore unlocking the doors to an exciting consumer base for any brands able to jump on the band-wagon.

3. Are the Six Nations audience active online?

When we asked our rugby fans if they share content via social media we found that 83% of fans admitted they did. 3 in 10 even went as far as suggesting that watching or following sports events is one of their main reasons for using social media (Global Web Index January 2019).

In 2015, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) spent an eye-watering £78m renovating Twickenham. The goal? To improve the fan experience, enhance fan engagement and create brand value. Through the RFU’s investment in technology and fan experience, they have been able to digitally connect and enhance engagement with fans. This, partnered with O2’s long-standing sponsorship of England’s rugby team, has led to an app that allows real-time campaigns to provide a more concise understanding of how rugby fans engage with marketing campaigns.

With the Six Nations audience so active online it seems it would be a timely opportunity for companies to take the plunge with this audience, perhaps generating fresh conversation and insights.

Want to conduct your own quick poll? Contact Alligator here.

Want to find out how to maximise product placement, see BVA BDRC's award-winning research for Channel Four.