The Rugby World Cup has become a huge business machine generating record revenues this year and aiming for even more in the future.
World Rugby is targeting commercial revenues of $US370 million ($A517.70 million) for the tournament which starts at Twickenham on Friday, 60 per cent higher than 2011, according to chief executive Brett Gosper. He predicted a surplus of about $US230.13 million ($A321.99 million).
Some business experts reckon the World Cup generates one billion dollars for the global body, broadcasters, kit makers and sponsors.
On top of the World Cup’s revenues, the 20 competing countries, are bringing $US191 million ($A267.24 million) in sponsorship deals alone, according to the Repucom sports marketing data firm.
The World Cup is “a massive commercial platform,” Repucom chief executive Paul Smith told AFP. “It is a billion dollar enterprise drawing investment on many levels.”
Television accounts for about two thirds of World Rugby’s revenues, said Gosper. It is also leading rugby’s attempts to conquer new markets.
The World Cup will be shown broadcast in 203 countries and territories. Germany will show 24 matches live and China 22, Gosper said.
“We want maximum exposure, particular in markets like India, China, Brazil and the United States,” he added.
The World Cup was first held in 1987 in Australia and New Zealand, but only became “truly global” in 2003 when it returned to Australia and was won by England, said Smith.
“It has been a slow building exercise,” said Smith, while adding that it has major potential for growth.
Rugby fans are traditionally wealthier than football counterparts. The sport also has longstanding sponsors in finance like Societe Generale bank in France and US insurance giant AIG in New Zealand.
“It reaches so many corners of the world and of course as an Olympic sport now through sevens, it amplifies the whole importance of the game,” said Smith.
“Lots of investment is going to come into rugby now in countries that haven’t previously been fully participating in the game,” he added.
World Rugby is hoping that the sport’s Olympic rebirth in Rio de Janeiro next year will further boost finances and encourage new male and female players.
“Rugby has got to pursue those major corridors for development. The United States is key for that,” said Repucom’s Smith.
“It is a major population market. It’s a very lucrative commercial market and of course it is a very lucrative broadcast market.”