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talkSPORT does Rugby World Cup

As England kickstart their foray in the 2011 Rugby World Cup down under– for the first time ever Rugby fans are listening to full match commentary on commercial radio only with the BBC not scoring any commentary rights to the tournament this year. Last year, talkSPORT brought the exclusive UK radio rights to the Rugby World Cup 2011 leaving the Beeb with news access only.

So what does the Rugby World Cup offer to commercial radio and the Sony Radio Station of the Year –  talkSPORT? The Guardian looks into the issue further in conversation with Programme Director – Moz Dee. “Together with our capture of exclusive rights to some Premier League football, it helps us be seen as credible sports broadcasters. We will not make money out of the World Cup in itself. For us it is about an investment in perception.” TalkSPORT have gone on the right tracks to score credible perception with hiring of heavyweight names in Rugby fronting their coverage in former England player Brian Moore and Australian rugby union star, David Campese.

Each home nation will be represented by a different pundit as Phil Vickery, who led England to the final of the rugby World Cup and won in 2003, will offer English insights, Gavin Hastings, former Scotland captain, will bring a Scottish perspective, Scott Quinnell, ex-Wales back-row forward will provide expert analysis on Wales and Paul Wallace, former Ireland and Lions prop, will examine the tournament from an Irish perspective.

All matches featuring the home nations, and the knockout matches, will be live on TalkSport, while there will be extended coverage of other games, with live commentary on the station’s website.

The opportunity, as with all major sporting events are prized avenues for commercial broadcasters to bring in new/additional revenues. Not only to accrue the high level of investment required for the exclusive programming but also to generate supporting revenues for the station. The coverage on talkSPORT is sponsored by Land Rover and Dove for Men with 02 taking sponsorship of it’s England content alongside a station promotion. Listeners will be able to access the latest updates from Wilkinson, Foden and the team via on air broadcasts (often starting from early in the morning, UK time) as well as via station website, social media, mobile apps and Sport magazine.

TalkSPORT are also putting money behind an extensive advertising campaign to ensure listeners are making their way to the station through trail into the extensive Rugby commentary. After speaking to a member of a production team at the station this week – there is some positive feedback that it’s working. Listeners are staying tuned in and interacting with the [breakfast] show because they didn’t know the station were broadcasting such in depth Rugby content – that view going back to cement Moz’s published comment on changing ‘perceptions’.
TalkSPORT are running press ads in relevant national titles using creative produced by their retained creative agency, Lionhouse Creative. A digital campaign will also run across key relevant websites. Last week, talkSPORT teamed up with Roberts Radio to ensure more listeners had chance to listen to the commentary via portable DAB with the production of dual branded TalkSPORT sports radios. Corporate events and listener events also are a key part of the marketing strategy.

The station are also running sponsor led S&P and digital display online to amplify their sponsorship from 02, Landrover and Dove for Men.

Will the investment pay off – is it a lot for a sponsorship of a game with funny shaped balls or will it raise revenues, audience and help build that audience perception of the national sports broadcaster?  Time will tell.