(NEW YORK, Sept.18, 2023) Premier Rugby Sevens (PR7s), the first league founded on gender equality, announced significant commercial and audience growth during its 2023 season, setting new benchmarks for the fastest-growing professional rugby organization in the world. The 2023 PR7s season consisted of 40 internationally broadcasted matches in five major U.S. markets with over 200 men’s and women’s athletes. The season culminated in August with the 2023 PR7s Championship in Washington, D.C., airing live on FS1. Standout metrics included:
– Cumulative 1-minute reach of 846,000 on FS1 and 103,000 on FS2
– 347% increase in linear live Championship audience on FS1 (vs. previous PR7s broadcast on FS1 in 2021)
– 10x increase in average streaming audience on DAZN, Tubi, YouTube, and Facebook (vs. 2022 season)
– 26 hours of linear television coverage across FS1, FS2, and CBS Sports Network
– Instagram: 105% follower growth since last season; 298% increase in impressions
– Tiktok: 338% follower growth; 400%+ growth in engagement
– YouTube: 348% subscriber growth (vs. prior year); 851% increase in hours consumed
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– 80% increase in total PR7s sponsors
– 44% increase in sponsor revenue
– 21% increase in attendance with a single tournament attendance record set in Austin, TX
– 16 teams, 5 cities, 40 matches played, 3 championships
– First-ever professional rugby events in Minneapolis and Pittsburgh
– 28 Olympians participated in PR7s in 2023, including 4 gold medalists
– 10 Talent ID sessions with over 700 athletes who tried out to make a PR7s roster – 33 players were selected into PR7s rosters in 2023
– 70% of matches came down to the final possession or were decided within one score
“By any measure, this year was a fantastic success thanks to the tremendous support of our fans and the amazing work done by our players, coaches, staff, and partners,” said Owen Scannell, CEO of Premier Rugby Sevens. “Rugby sevens has found its new home, with the world’s biggest stars entertaining audiences across the country and our eight franchises putting down roots across North America. We’ve cemented our position as the new must-watch American sports league and the tip of the spear for rugby audience growth in the United States.”
Scannell added, “On the field, our athletes from around the globe competed in one of the most thrilling and wildly uncertain competitions, showing American fans why sevens is the perfect spectator sport at the perfect time. Off the field, we grew our audiences in the stands and at home through partnerships with CBS Sports Network and FS1 that put rugby sevens on primetime TV in the U.S. Our fans are some of the most engaged in all of sports, and the demand to associate with our franchises and our brand continues to heighten. We are excited to build off this incredible momentum into 2024, where sevens will return to the Olympics to captivate the world.”
PR7s is breaking down gender barriers for sports in the U.S. and has achieved several firsts since launching in 2021, including:
– The first professional sports league to launch with equal pay for male and female athletes
– The first platform for women to play professional rugby in North America
– The first league to create a United Championship where men’s and women’s results combine into one overall ranking
Throughout the season, PR7s teamed up with Pardon My Take, rated the top sports podcast in the world, featuring a watch-along telecast during the championship. The league also collaborated with teams from the NFL, MLB, MLS, WNBA, and NWSL to introduce the sport of rugby sevens to other athletes and fanbases. Adding to its festival atmosphere, the PR7s Championship featured a performance by internationally acclaimed musician Paul Russell, a top 3 trending artist on TikTok. PR7s sponsors in 2023 included Samurai, GoodSport®, Rhinos Rugby Academy, Sperry, C4 Performance Energy, Kane Innovations, Yuengling, and the United States Coast Guard. DAZN was the league’s 2023 European Broadcast Partner.
Leading into the 2023 season, PR7s doubled the number of teams compared to the prior season and connected each franchise to a specific region or city for the first time. Eight total franchises featured a men’s and a women’s team who competed in their respective competitions. The Rocky Mountain Experts took home the 2023 United Championship, which combined point totals for the men’s and women’s teams. The women’s Northern Loonies won the Kathy Flores Cup for women’s top prize, while the men’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads earned the A. Jon Prusmack Cup.
The 2023 PR7s rosters featured many players with Olympic experience, including Olympic Gold Medalists Ruby Tui (women’s Golden State Retrievers via New Zealand), Stacey Waaka (women’s New York Locals via New Zealand), Alena Saili (women’s Texas Team via New Zealand), and Waisea Nacuqu (men’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads via Fiji), Olympic Silver Medalist Dan Norton (men’s Northern Loonies via Great Britain), and Olympic Bronze Medalists Kayla Moleshi (women’s Northern Loonies via Canada), Reapi Uluinasau (women’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads via Fiji), and Ana Naimasi (women’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads via Fiji).
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Team USA Olympians who competed for PR7s in 2023 included current USA Rugby Women’s Captain Naya Tapper (women’s Southern Headliners), Kayla Canett (women’s Pittsburgh Steeltoes), Abby Gustaitis (women’s Southern Headliners), Kathryn Johnson (women’s Rocky Mountain Experts), Matai Leuta (men’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads), Alev Kelter (women’s Northern Loonies), Madison Hughes (men’s Rocky Mountain Experts), Cody Melphy (men’s New York Locals), Kris Thomas (women’s Texas Team), Ben Pinkelman (men’s Pittsburgh Steeltoes), Ariana Ramsey (women’s Rocky Mountain Experts), Naima Fualaau (men’s Rocky Mountain Experts). Kelly Griffin, a 2016 Team USA Olympian, was also part of the organization as the head coach of the women’s Golden State Retrievers.
Other Olympic athletes who participated in the 2023 PR7s season included Chiharu Nakamura (women’s Rocky Mountain Experts via Japan), Alasio Naduva (men’s New York Locals via Fiji), Branco du Preez (men’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads via South Africa), Bianca Silva (via Brazil), Luisa Campos (via Brazil), Rafaela Zanellato (via Brazil), and Mariana Nicolau (via Brazil).