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Rugby World Cup breaks records with 857 million viewers

The 2019 Rugby World Cup has broken the record for the most-viewed rugby union tournament.

According to governing body World Rugby, more than 857 million people watched the tournament from Japan. This represented a 26% increase from the tournament hosted in England in 2015.

In terms of live audiences, 501 million people watched live – an increase of 5% from 479 million in 2015.

England’s defeat to South Africa was the most-watched final in the tournament’s history, with an average audience of 44.9 million fans watching live. This was an 83% increase on the live TV audience from the 2015 final, with total viewing figures increasing by 63% to 51.3 million.

In the UK, ITV drew 12.8 million viewers for the final – a 79% audience share. It became the most-watched sports broadcast of the year and the second most watched programme.

In the host nation of Japan, a total cumulative audience of 425 million watched some of the tournament, with Japan’s victory over Scotland attracting 54.8 million viewers.

Bill Beaumont, chairman of World Rugby, said: “These exceptional broadcast figures reaffirm our belief that Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan will be remembered as one of the great, if not the greatest of all Rugby World Cups.

“Overall audience growth is just one part of the story. It is particularly pleasing for the future development of the sport that Rugby World Cup 2019 broadcast success was driven by younger people in emerging markets such as India, Germany and across Asia, while Japan is now a major broadcast market for rugby – generating a sustainable audience legacy for the sport.”