Every year, it seems that finding out how to watch the Six Nations on US TV changes. This year is no different.
Europe’s rugby titans will tussle for the 2021 Six Nations rugby union championship in a round-robin from February 6 through March 20. France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and hey, why not, even Italy, will try to snatch England’s crown. If you want to find out how to watch the Six Nations live, then your only option is to pony up for Peacock Premium at $4.99 a month. But, if you can shut yourself off from social media and score updates, then NBCSN will be offering televised matches on same-day delay.
There will be no fans in attendance and the women’s Six Nations, normally played during the same window as the men’s, has been postponed to April. England will be looking for its leading 30th all-time win while long shots Scotland are seeking their first title since 1999, when the competition was the Five Nations. In the US sports, ties are often broken by head-to-head record, but England won the Six Nations last year based on point difference with France, despite France having defeated England in Paris.
The opening matches include perennial wooden spooners Italy against second favorites France, holders England against auld enemy Scotland, and Wales against Ireland. The Six Nations, like in 2020, often comes down to the very last day. This year, on March 20, that last round will feature Scotland versus Italy, Ireland versus England, and France versus Wales.
When it comes to sports, Peacock Premium is best known for the Premier League.
But last year, NBC transitioned its rugby union content from its Gold Pass streaming service to Peacock Premium. Aside from the Six Nations, Peacock Premium also offers Premiership Rugby (England’s top tier domestic competition), rugby sevens at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, and the World Rugby Sevens Series (rugby sevens is a wild, wide-open 7-on-7 version played in matches that last only 14 minutes).
In addition to rugby and soccer, Peacock Premium features IndyCar racing, Olympic sports like figure skating and skiing, Supercross motorcycle racing, and WWE wrestling. And this fall, it’s expected that some NHL matches will move to Peacock.
When it comes to the battle between over-the-top subscription sports streaming services like Peacock Premium, ESPN+, and Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access), it’s all about the quality and quantity of the offerings. These streaming services must offer both a buffet and a signature dish. For example, B/R Live never got much traction primarily because it didn’t have much to offer aside from the Champions League.
ESPN+ is the market leader thus far, with more than 10 million subscriptions at $5.99 a month. It offers a serious sporting smorgasbord: marquee properties like the Bundesliga, Serie A, and MLS along with a plethora of other offerings like Pro14 rugby (the club league covering Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales), international rugby from the Southern Hemisphere featuring world-beaters New Zealand, lesser international soccer leagues like Australia’s A-League, select NHL games, beach soccer, futsal, cricket, college sports, and European handball. Sports streamers expect more than just a single marquee property in exchange for their monthly subscription.
Rugby has been a winner for NBC. In 2019, more than 650,000 tuned in to see South Africa win the World Cup final over England, while there were more than 10 million unique views on NBC and NBCSN for the tournament as a whole. Rugby Sevens was a hit at the 2016 Olympics and the US even has its own rugby union competition, Major League Rugby, with thirteen clubs.
While rugby is growing in American popularity, the fear when niche sports go behind a paywall is that curious new fans won’t be able to stumble across it to get hooked. But, conversely, being behind a paywall may help a niche sport like rugby. Fans of more popular programming like the Premier League or wrestling who pay for Peacock Premium may feel the need to justify the expense and so might explore all the sports that the service has to offer. Either way, compelling competitions like the Six Nations are a must for Peacock Premium to be competitive in a crowded streaming market.
Peacock Premium is currently offering a free 7-day trial for those who are interested.
How to watch the Six Nations
For the 2021 Six Nations, here’s the schedule for the opening weekend (all times Eastern):
Saturday, February 6
Italy v. France, 9:15am, Peacock Premium (free trial)
England v. Scotland, 11:45am, Peacock Premium (free trial)
Sunday, February 7
Wales v. Ireland, 10am, Peacock Premium (free trial)
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