Six Nations gear up for Netflix show as rugby union seeks Drive to Survive effect

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Wednesday, October 19, 2022 7:59 p.m.

Six Nations and Netflix are set to sign a documentary series deal (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The Six Nations chiefs are hoping to grow their fanbase with a new series that will air on streaming site Netflix.

Rugby bosses have held talks with program officials and it is believed an agreement is close, paving the way for the start of next year’s edition of the international tournament.

The program is set to be a Six Nations version of Drive to Survive, the hugely popular Formula 1-focused fly-on-the-wall series.

It comes weeks after England’s Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union gave the go-ahead for filming to take place in the dressing room for the first time.

Sports documentaries have become increasingly popular as Drive to Survive has transformed expectations around behind-the-scenes shows.

Amazon’s All or Nothing docuseries has given fans a different and more intimate look at a particular team, with Arsenal’s final season being well received.

Six Nations Series?

Various rugby voices have pleaded for a similar series – Premiership club chiefs, overseas league players and even players have called for modern digital content to help attract new fans to a sport facing financial challenges.

The Six Nations – comprising England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy – is widely regarded as rugby’s premier annual international competition and regularly attracts millions of television viewers to the terrestrial television.

But the international game largely eschewed documentary series, with northern hemisphere commissions for Lions documentaries becoming tougher and only South Africa and New Zealand featuring in shows that aired globally.

But entering the Six Nations market could boost the marketing strategy of a sport seeking financial stability and develop a generation of new fans, as Drive to Survive did for Formula 1.

In a burst

The Six Nations have multiplied announcements in recent days with the modernization of the competition at its center. The tournament has partnered with technology company Sage to produce a smart ball that will help broadcasters in their analysis of match data.

Netflix, meanwhile, is looking to branch out into new territories. The US streaming service agreed to fund the making of French films and documentaries to the tune of $45m (£45m) and opened an office in Rome in May this year.

“If Netflix is ​​going to invest in this, they will want to release it before the World Cup [in late 2023]said Ben Uttley, former director of the British and Irish Lions documentaries. AM City

“The only alternative would be to do a longer series where they try to pick up the momentum after the World Cup, which would be a much longer commitment. I’m not sure if the audience is big enough for Netflix to invest [in that option] strongly.”

Efforts to modernize and diversify the sport come as two Premiership clubs have fallen into administration while the wider sport of rugby union is failing to make the profit many thought it would 25 years on from professionalism.

AM City approached Six Nations and Netflix for comment

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