EDIT: The League has confirmed that the 2.08M viewership is exclusively the CBS broadcast and does not include The Rugby Network.
If you watched the Giltinis knock off Rugby ATL in the MLR Championship, you certainly weren’t alone.
Major League Rugby reported annual viewership statistics today. Among the highlights: the Championship was viewed by 2.08 million households. Compare that to 2019 viewership (the most recent Championship due to the pandemic cancellations of 2020), which saw a little over 500,000 tune in.
What does that number actually mean?
Note the exact phrasing: ‘2.08M households tuned in for the 2021 MLR Championship on CBS’.
That number is worth unpacking. The Championship was a joint MLR/CBS production Is that 2.08M domestic, American households? Or is the global reach that includes TSN in Canada, Sky in New Zealand, The Rugby Network worldwide, and any other potential media platform? The wording would indicate the former, but that’s an almost unrealistic jump.
Either way, the game received little marketing on CBS prior to kickoff, meaning people tuned in already expecting it to be there through prior exposure. The influence of MLR is growing.