French Rugby League – Keeping the momentum

With British Rugby League about to get back underway, how can French Rugby League hold on to its new audience?

With the announcement of new fixtures for Super League and the hyper competitive Championship, excitement is beginning to grow for the return of Rugby League in the UK and with the vaccination program being rolled out, crowds won’t be too far away.

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While this is undoubtedly good news, one area of concern might be that the interest built up in the French Elite 1 Championship begins to dwindle, which would be a setback for the wider game after the excellent streaming work this season.

Case in point, the recent Elite 1 top of the table clash between St Esteve Catalan vs Carcassonne XIII attracted more than 6500 views, an impressive figure when one of the teams involved is a ‘reserve’ team. Obviously, with Catalan Dragons fans starved of games they will have a more eager audience at the moment but it crucially has allowed Catalan to keep their fanbase engaged throughout the Super League hiatus.

However, many of these views come from an international audience and French Rugby League will want to keep them engaged for the remainder of this and next season. 

So, how can Elite 1 and French Rugby League build on their increased visibility through social media and streaming for next season? The author’s humble idea is a simple one.  A regular Elite 1 show.

Post pandemic problems

Once people can roam freely, Elite 1 may struggle to hold attention for the full 80 minutes and fans who can attend will naturally prefer to be in the stadium rather than watch through a screen.

However, that is not a reason to stop streaming games as the sport in France needs to keep up the wider visibility and with the games being recorded anyway, the footage is already there for a show.

Rather than having to skulk through the various social media platforms to find out which team has which highlight package, a single Elite 1 highlights show hosted on the French Rugby League national YouTube channel can become part of people’s weekly schedule.

Not only will this allow people to feel they can follow a season in a 20–30 minutes consumable video, it can also be used to unapologetically push the date of the Elite 1 final and where people can buy tickets.

Ahh but Ed, won’t some fans have already travelled to France to watch Toulouse and Catalan? Of course.

However, if a regular show is used to build momentum for the competition throughout the year, Elite 1 should be targeting a few thousand to come and make the trip for the Grand Final.

There is more than enough time before next season to make sure next season opens with a weekly YouTube highlights show and ends with a 10,000-capacity crowd in the south of France.

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Elite 1: Appointment Viewing

With English commentary and four minutes for each of the six games (should the league expand), you have the perfect show to push the Elite 1 final as a must attend event for everyone, British or French.

If the show is released at the right time in the week for maximum exposure (I’d suggest an hour before the regular Thursday night game on Sky kicks off), Elite 1 can not only hold the new audience it has found this year but grow it too.

If French Rugby League and Elite 1 can get this right, next season could be the year a regular YouTube highlights show opens the gates to a new generation of fans across the sporting globe and makes the Elite 1 final a must see sell-out.

You can follow Edward on Twitter @HomelessEd3

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