The Six Nations and Netflix are close to signing a contract for a docu-series (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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

The Six Nations and Netflix are close to signing a contract for a docu-series (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Six Nations chiefs are hoping to develop their fanbase through a new series set to be shown on streaming site Netflix.

Rugby bosses have held talks with programme makers and a deal is thought to be close, paving the way to start at next year’s edition of the international tournament.

The programme is expected to be a Six Nations version of Drive to Survive, the hugely popular fly-on-the-wall series focusing on Formula 1. 

It comes weeks after England’s Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union gave the green light for filming to take place in dressing rooms for the first time.

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

Amazon’s string of All or Nothing docu-series have offered fans a different, more intimate look into a particular team, with the most recent season on Arsenal being received well.

Six Nations series?

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

The Six Nations –  which features England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy – is widely considered rugby’s best annual international competition and regularly draws millions of viewers on terrestrial television. 

But the international game has largely steered clear of docu-series, with northern hemisphere commissions for Lions documentaries becoming more difficult and only South Africa and New Zealand featuring in shows that have been released globally.

But an entry into the market from the Six Nations could turbo-charge the marketing strategy for a sport looking for financial stability and develop a generation of new fans, like Drive to Survive has done for Formula 1.

In a flurry

The Six Nations has made a flurry of announcements in recent days with the modernisation of the competition at its centre. The tournament has partnered with technology firm Sage to produce a smart ball which will aid broadcasters in their data analysis of the match.

Netflix, meanwhile, is looking to diversify into new territories. The American streaming service has agreed to finance French film and documentary making to the tune of $45m (£45m) and opened a Rome office in May this year. 

“If Netflix are going to be investing in this, they will want to get it out before the World Cup [in late 2023],” Ben Uttley, former director of British and Irish Lions documentaries, told City A.M.

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

Efforts to modernise and diversify the sport come as two Premiership clubs have fallen into administration while the wider sport of rugby union is not making the profits many thought it would 25 years on from professionalism.

City A.M. approached the Six Nations and Netflix for comment

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