Last weekend saw the start of the "Six Nations" tournament, the second most important event in world rugby, after the World Cup.
The stadiums are filled with tens of thousands of spectators, and in front of the television screens sit many millions of fans of the sport, in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy.
The interest will continue throughout the tournament, which will come to an end in a month and a half, but it is limited almost exclusively to the countries mentioned.
Rugby is also a very popular sport in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina, but beyond them and the six participants - in the rest of the world this great event is hardly mentioned, mainly because it is still considered a rather esoteric sport.
However, there is room for optimism, because there is a good chance that within a few years the situation will change, and the credit for this goes to the largest streaming empire in the world, Netflix.
She is currently shooting a documentary series that accompanies the national teams participating in the "Six Nations" tournament, and the past has proven that this is a fairly safe way to increase the range of exposure and fans.
Will the rugby industry rise soon?, Photo: Getty Images
Not only in Europe
Take for example what happened to Formula 1, the most important racing competition in the world, following the docu-series Drive To Survive, the fifth season of which will air on the 24th of the month, a week before the opening race of the 2023 season. Formula 1 was a big and successful sport even before Netflix started broadcast the series in 2019, but what has happened since the first season is a real revolution - especially in the US.
You have to remember, in Uncle Sam's country there are millions of car racing fans, but over the years they were mainly interested in the local versions, such as the Indycar and Hanscar.
As those who like to differentiate themselves, the Americans saw Formula 1 as too European, too sophisticated and hence also arrogant.
What's more, until recently there were no American teams and US-made drivers in the circuit.
But all that has changed dramatically in the last four years - mainly thanks to the docu-series, which revealed to the American audience the colorful and larger-than-life characters that fill the world of Formula 1 - the drivers and team managers.
The dramatic stories, the ego battles and everything that was done behind the scenes in this glittering sport, became a hysterical hit, and suddenly even people who had no idea what Formula 1 was at all began to watch.
Not only in the series - but also in the races themselves.
The brand of Formula 1 has been strengthened a lot thanks to the docu on Netflix, photo: Reuters
And the numbers are amazing.
In 2018, an average of 554,000 people watched each of the Formula 1 races in the United States. In 2022, the number jumped to 1.21 million who sat glued to the television screen. When you analyze the numbers, you realize that this is a bigger revolution, because the main growth is mainly among young people In the last year alone, there was an increase of 29 percent among the 18 to 49 year olds, and among the 12 to 17 year olds the increase is even greater, 49 percent. And these are the most important numbers, as this is the future generation of industry enthusiasts. The revolution did not pass by the women. 28 percent of all The spectators at the races were spectators, and for them the increase in the last year was 34 percent.
The madness of Formula 1 has resulted in the fact that in the 2023 season there will be no less than three races in the USA. In addition to Miami and Austin, there will also be a race in Las Vegas, which will be attended by half a million fans. The impact of Drive To Survive on the audience in the USA is amazing, and it is equal to Formula 1 Hundreds of millions of dollars more each year.
At the same time, Netflix executives realized that docu-series about sports was a crazy hit.
This is a situation where there are only winners.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the streaming giant has produced docu-series about tennis and golf in the past year, filmed a series about the World Cup in Qatar, will film a series about the Tour de France - and as mentioned, is filming a docu-series about the prestigious rugby tournament.
Not everyone likes the idea.
Warren Gatland, the Wales coach, who fears the introduction of cameras, said: "The words that are heard, when you as a coach try to spur the players on, are not always the nicest."
Others fear the leakage of tactical secrets, but the majority are supportive, and believe that within a few years rugby will become a much more popular sport in new countries, and especially in the United States, which will host the World Cup in 2031.
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