If you weren’t using The Rugby Network to watch Major League Rugby on demand, you’ll want to sign up before February.
Major League Rugby’s return to a February kick off creates a tough situation in an overcrowded calendar. Round 1 starts the day after the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. The Games continue through Round 3. The Winter version of the Games typically lacks the viewership of its Summer counterparts. Since the Summer version is only a few months in the rear view, the Winter version could also lose a bit of its steam. Regardless, its a quadrennial event, so interested eyes will be watching intensely.
Oh, and the Super Bowl consumes Round 2.
Smack dab in the middle of the Winter Olympics, Super Bowl Sunday is sure to pull eyes away from the MLR. The League made a conscious effort to avoid clashing with the actual game, as the Round featuring a Thursday match, a Friday match, and four Saturday clashes. Major League Rugby made no effort to avoid the NFL’s event that coincides with Round 1: the Pro Bowl. Two MLR matches are scheduled for that evening. For some reason, I don’t think the broadcast partner that receives those games will be terribly worried.
February also features the buildup of college basketball. The biggest programs will be jockeying for spots in their conference tournaments and the Big Dance. MLR has yet to announce 2022 broadcast deals (a topic worth watching closely), rugby was relegated to FS2 while FOX and FS1 featured basketball.
Viewership data for the first quarter of the season (which we’ll never see) could leave the league office in Dallas sweating. Hopefully, they crack a window, let the winter air in, and realize things will open up in short order.