Spark digs deep for Cup, says Sky
Spark will have splashed out big time to secure the rights to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Sky Television says.
Sky spokeswoman Melodie Robinson said Sky offered to pay ‘‘significantly more’’ for the rights to the 2019 World Cup than it did when it won the rights to the cup in 2015. ‘‘Therefore Spark paid a lot of money,’’ she said.
Spark spokesman Andrew Pirie responded it was ‘‘very comfortable’’ with the price it paid and said it was not safe to assume RWC organiser World Rugby would necessary have plumped for the highest bid.
‘‘What we do know is that World Rugby have stated objectives about broadening the appeal of rugby beyond traditional rugby followers and our bid emphasises how our approach would give more New Zealanders more choice and opportunity,’’ Pirie said.
Sky investors had already written off the Rugby World Cup as lost when the pay-television giant announced last month that it was not the preferred bidder for the tournament in Japan.
That was confirmed yesterday when Spark announced it had secured the rights to the RWC, as well as the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2021, this year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens and the World Rugby under-20 championships this year and next.
The contract for the cup was between the event organisers and Spark, with Television New Zealand playing a secondary role, Spark said.
Spark will stream the games online to paying customers, who need not be Spark broadband customers, with TVNZ providing the free-to-air component required by the tournament organisers.
Will more games be free-to-air?
It appears not. At the last World Cup, Sky screened seven games free-to-air on Prime. Spark has confirmed TVNZ will also air seven games free-to-air. It is understood this is an obligation under its contract with World Rugby.
What will they cost online?
Full pricing won’t be revealed until next year, but Spark managing director Simon Moutter has indicated a streaming subscription to the whole RWC will cost about $100. Viewers will have the option of subscribing to watch all games online, or to pay for individual matches.
What if I lack good broadband?
Spark says it is looking at a range of options. These might include licences to let pubs and clubs show streamed coverage – similar to the service Sky provides today that lets them show Sky Sports.
Sky Television investors had already written off the Rugby World Cup as lost last month.