The British and Irish Lions chiefs have held talks with Sky Sports over unveiling the squad for next summer’s tour of South Africa in an event “similar to the NFL Draft”.
According to a report in The Telegraph today, the Lions want to maximise the potential for commercial growth ahead of their series in 2021.
“A Lions squad is a season-long debate, which commences on social media as soon as a ball is kicked at the start of the domestic season,” said Shane Whelan, their director of digital, marketing and communications.
“In terms of online engagement, the squad announcement is on a par with the first Test – it gets massive numbers on social media. For instance, in the week leading up to the reveal we added 150,000 followers on our social channels.
“Over the years we’ve seen it grow as an event too, but we want to take it to the next level.
JOIN THE RUCK:
“We believe it can be a standalone, appointment-to-view TV event, similar to the NFL Draft, but obviously not quite on that scale just yet.”
The idea right now is to add an interactive element with Sky Sports dispersing reporters and camera crews to clubs and provincial teams around the United Kingdom and Ireland in order to speak to players and coaches after the announcement.
Whatever happens, the Lions’ aim is to increase its visibility and appeal before the team travels to South Africa.
British & Irish Lions: 25,000 fans pick their squad with under a year to go
Liam Williams (Wales), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Anthony Watson (England), Jonny May (England), Josh Adams (Wales), Jacob Stockdale (Ireland), George North (Wales).
Manu Tuilagi (England), Owen Farrell (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Garry Ringrose (Ireland).
Finn Russell (Scotland, Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Dan Biggar (Wales).
Rhys Webb (Wales), Gareth Davies (Wales), Conor Murray (Ireland)