Spark and TVNZ land Rugby World Cup rights
Spark, the New Zealand telecoms company, has secured rights to both the men's and women's Rugby World Cup tournaments, and will sub-licence rights to some matches to public broadcaster TVNZ.
Spark is to stream coverage of matches from the 2019 Rugby World Cup across various devices and on a live and on-demand basis, offering full tournament and individual match subscription passes.
The award of the media rights to next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan coincides with the news that Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd, the property management arm of the Japanese conglomerate, has been named as a tournament sponsor.
The rights deal also includes this year's Rugby World Cup Sevens and World Rugby said that 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."
On the deal agreed between Spark and TVNZ, the world body noted: "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."
The announcement of Spark and TVNZ as the winners of the rights follows on from Sky Network Television, the pay-TV broadcaster and incumbent Rugby World Cup rights-holder, revealing last month that it was not the preferred bidder.
Sky, which held rights to the last two tournaments, described the Rugby World Cup as "an incredibly expensive event" to broadcast.
Sky told the stuff.co.nz website today that it offered to pay "significantly more" for the 2019 rights than it did for the 2015 tournament and that, therefore, Spark "paid a lot of money."
Commenting on the rights award, Brett Gosper, World Rugby's chief executive, 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."
Simon Moutter, Spark's managing director, 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."
Rights for the 2019 World Cup are being marketed by IMG, the international sports and entertainment agency.
Matches involving the All Blacks at the 2015 World Cup in England were shown live in full on Prime, Sky’s free-to-air channel, which also offered daily extended highlights from the tournament. Sky broadcast live all 48 matches on its pay-television, digital and mobile platforms.
Sky also delivered the host broadcast services and world feed for the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, albeit domestic coverage was shared with free-to-air broadcasters Maori TV, TVNZ and TV3.
Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd has become a 2019 Rugby World Cup Official Sponsor in the real estate category.
Bill Beaumont, World Rugby's chairman, said: "We are delighted to be welcoming Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd to the Rugby World Cup commercial programme for the first time as an Official Sponsor for Japan 2019. The appointment of another major brand, demonstrates the significant commercial appeal of Rugby World Cup 2019 in the global and domestic marketplace."
Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd joins other second-tier official sponsors Canon, Toto, SECOM and Taisho Pharmaceutical, below the six Worldwide Partners - Emirates, Heineken, Land Rover, Mastercard, Société Générale and DHL - that were signed up in record time.