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Spark and TVNZ win broadcast rights for Rugby World Cup 2019

There are concerns over access to coverage in rural areas.

TVNZ and Spark have won the rights to broadcast the Rugby World Cup 2019.

SKY confirmed last month that it was not successful in its bid to secure the broadcast rights.

Under the deal, TVNZ will screen selected matches from the tournament free-to-air while all the games will be available via a Spark streaming service.

Spark says the service will offer free and paid content and will not be restricted to Spark customers.

The company's CEO Simon Moutter told Radio NZ he could not guarantee that every New Zealander could get access to the RWC coverage if their broadband connection was weak. "But we've got 18 months to see if we can solve that problem to everyone," he said. He said there would be various options available for streaming the other matches however, and Spark was looking specifically into providing better accessibility than had been available in the past.

"So you can pay to watch a single game, or for the entire tournament ... lower [cost] than most people would expect actually."

Moutter added that he expected a tournament ticket would cost about $100.

The Rugby World Cup will be held over six weeks in Japan between September and November next year and will feature 48 matches between 20 teams.

What this means for rugby fans in NZ

How will Kiwis be able to access RWC2019?
New Zealanders will be able to stream the matches over their broadband or mobile connection, via an app that will be compatible with a wide range of devices – including TVs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. TVNZ will offer selected matches free-to-air.

How much will it cost?
Spark won't be releasing pricing details until next calendar year but intends to offer pricing options to suit people's differing preferences and budgets. This will include a full tournament package and individual match passes. Which games will be screened free-to-air via TVNZ?
These details will be released in due course, but there will be seven live matches screened free-to-air, and this will include the tournament's opening match and the final.

Will I have to be a Spark customer to watch the RWC2019?
No. Spark will be streaming the tournament over an app that will be available to all New Zealanders, no matter who their broadband or mobile provider is. The app will be compatible with a wide range of devices. It will be free to download and then matches and packages will be offered on a pay to watch basis. Selected matches will be also be available free-to-air via TVNZ.

What sort of free content might you offer online via the app?
Those details will be released next year, but the content is likely to include – for example – highlights from the week's play or delayed full match content.

What about people who don't have good broadband coverage – particularly people in rural areas?
The vast majority of New Zealanders can and do already access streaming services very effectively and that number continues to grow with UFB and RBI programmes roll-outs continuing. However, we are very mindful that in late 2019, some people may still not have adequate coverage to stream the matches at home. We want to do our best to give as many New Zealanders as possible to watch - so we are looking at a range of options. We're not able to give any details right now.

What tournaments are included?
Men's Rugby World Cup 2019—Japan, Sept-Nov 2019
Women's Rugby World Cup 2021—TBA
Men's/Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018—San Francisco, July 2018
Men's World Rugby U20 Championship 2018—France, May-June 2018
Men's World Rugby U20 Championship 2019—TBA

Source: Spark