World Rugby has announced details of a wide-ranging deal with Spark New Zealand for the broadcast of some of the sports biggest properties, including the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018.
Reflecting the rapidly-evolving global rights landscape, in a first for Rugby World Cup rights, fans in New Zealand will be able to stream Rugby World Cup 2019 matches and related content live and on-demand over their home broadband or mobile connection, using a wide range of devices including TVs, mobiles, tablets and laptops.
Importantly, the streaming service will offer free and paid content which will be available to everyone in New Zealand – not just Spark customers – via the nation's five million mobile connections (3G/4G) and 1.5 million broadband subscribers.
Reflecting World Rugby’s commitment to free-to-air coverage, Spark has entered also into an agreement with TVNZ, which will ensure that selected Rugby World Cup 2019 matches as well as Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 and the World Rugby U20 Championship in 2018 and 2019 will screen free-to-air on TVNZ.
TVNZ will screen seven Rugby World Cup 2019 matches live – including the opening match and the final – the same number offered free-to-air for Rugby World Cup 2015, and a yet to be confirmed number of delayed matches. Details of these matches will be released in the coming months.
World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “We are excited to be announcing details of this innovative deal with Spark for World Rugby tournament rights in New Zealand.
“Through the complementary skills of Spark’s strength in digital services, technology and network delivery, and TVNZ’s strength in content production and promotion, we believe that fans in New Zealand will be able to access an exceptional viewer experience that will deliver even more action, analysis and coverage to more people than ever before.”
While the subscription model will be announced later in the year, Spark have confirmed that the offering will include a broad range of experiences from full tournament packages to individual match passes.
Spark Managing Director Simon Moutter added: “At Spark, we want to help shape the future of sports watching by New Zealanders, so we are immensely proud to be bringing these iconic tournaments via modern streaming capabilities that offer a richer, more engaging viewing experience. We intend to use the power of technology to give Kiwis more control and better choices about what they watch, when they watch and how they watch.”
TVNZ CEO Kevin Kenrick added: “Big sporting events have a huge following, and in New Zealand it doesn’t get much bigger than Rugby World Cup. It is ‘must watch moments’ like this that drive TV viewing. TVNZ is excited to be the free-to-air TV home for the next Rugby World Cup. The tournament is a major addition to our sport event line-up, which includes this month’s Commonwealth Games.”