Could Streaming Rugby Turn Around ITV's Year?

We're just over a fortnight away from the long-awaited Rugby World Cup -- and the news for advertisers is looking pretty good, according to a report out today from GlobalWebIndex.

It is one of ITV's major opportunities to leverage the huge interest in a sporting spectacle that attracts a higher-value audience than the sport the UK is most fixated with, football (or soccer, if you prefer).

Possibly the best piece of news for advertisers reaching out to this affluent audience is that according to the researchers, nearly nine in ten (87%) of respondents reveal that they don't mind seeing ads on streaming services.

This is important because the eight-hour time difference means that around a third of people watching games will be catching up with the action after work via the ITV Hub. There is the proviso that the service has to be free and high-quality -- but as long as these boxes are ticked, people will effectively be time-shifting the games and still expecting to see ads before and after the game, as well as at half-time. 

The news gets better for Guinness. In a finding that will remind many of the research around the football World Cup, it turns out that the Irish stout brand is the second-most identified sponsor of the Rugby World Cup, behind Heineken in first place and ahead of MasterCard in third. The only problem is, as you may have guessed, Guinness is not actually a sponsor. 

The reason is almost certainly because of Guinness' close association with the Six Nations rugby tournament, which means it's second nature to associate the beer brand with rugby, no matter what the tournament. 

So, it's pretty easy to predict that Guinness is going to repeat what Nike does to Adidas at every World Cup. It cannot display an official logo, but it can run advertising during breaks in play that just make people assume it's a sponsor, and all without having to fork out for the privilege.

All in all, then, the research suggests that this highly attractive, affluent audience that is going to be tuning into the tournament will accept ads, even if catching up on ITV Hub.

That has to come as a huge relief to ITV, which is already dealing with a predicted decline in tv advertising revenue this year. It needs the Rugby World Cup to lift its revenue and ideally it would have been on European time.

With nine in ten not so bothered that catch-up services will feature advertising, the broadcaster can perhaps breathe a huge sigh of relief. 

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