... continues his review of the competition's commercial programme (Part 2)
Centrally, all media rights and the title sponsorship are handled through my office, as well as a few of the smaller sponsorships. However all ticketing, hospitality and national sponsorship revenues are attributable to each of the individual unions, so clearly that's where they get funding from.
I think you've got to judge it and ask has it been successful. And it has. It's never been as successful as it is today, it's never generated as much money as it does today. And will things change? Well you can never say never and we will always keep an open mind and a flexible attitude to where we’re going. But it is working and we've got to make sure we maximise everything we can.
So for instance, this year for the first time we have an official YouTube channel which just over the first two weekends had 750,000 downloading clips from it. Those are the kind of things that say to me we're in fairly robust health. We always look at different ways to allow people access to the championship. Clearly, digital and social platforms are now an important working part of the process as well. So yes, things change quite a lot, especially if you look at it over a ten year period. Although, it doesn't feel like that on a year-to-year basis!
I think it'll be some time before we're looking at a Seven Nations. We still have plenty of ground to make up in Italy. Yes they've come in, they're very solid, they've improved and they're really doing well. However, in terms of the potential in that country - for the numbers playing and for the revenues behind it, we have a lot of work still to do there. So in terms of extra countries, it's not looking like anything we would be doing soon.
If you were going to relegate somebody, who would you take in? There isn't really another contender at that level to start with. This is a closed Championship. We're a Championship that's owned and run by the Unions concerned, so it's an essential part of maintaining those Unions. They are all tier 1 Unions and it's important that they have the revenue models that will actually drive their rugby programmes and develop the sports within their own countries. The 6 Nations provides that. It's almost as big as a World Cup every year in terms of the amount of turnover that's involved. So from that perspective, it's actually the engine that drives many of those countries.