Dear NZRU, Please free my rugby from SKY. Let me pay to watch the All Blacks live in HD via the internet – like the rest of the world

free my rugby, livetv, NZRU

Orcon launches Free My Rugby petition designed to show support to the NZRU for a new business model for watching live sport in New Zealand.

Orcon said a direct streaming option would mean fans wouldn’t need an “expensive Sky subscription” to watch rugby. New Zealand Rugby and Sky TV both declined to comment according Orcon. Sky TV has held the exclusive New Zealand broadcast rights to those events since 1996. According to Orcon rugby fans overseas could watch the All Blacks play live online for US$7 ($8.55) – an option not available to New Zealanders.

We support the campaign to raise which promotes competition and consumer choice as a means of minimising price and maximising quality of streaming sports games online. SKY continues to dominate the pay TV market, and sport is an extremely important part of that, with 71 percent of total Sky subscribers signed up to sport.

In October Sky announced that it had signed a conditional contract to renew its five-year deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union and the SANZAR unions for an undisclosed amount. The shares rose to a two-week high. It didn’t disclose any terms or conditions of the agreement.

The current rugby union contract which expires in 2015 awards exclusive broadcast rights across technology platforms, including internet viewing yet no information about the better to access to stream rugby online is not forthcoming.

We see a lot of opportunity for the NZRU to continue to develop the way the game is presented to globally by maximising their online presence, with streaming, merchandise and back catalog options, like NBA.com for example. NZRU reportedly spoke with other operators, but clearly SKY was the only option.

Sky still operates under an old, pre-internet distribution model of exclusive rights that are sold to different markets. According to a recent article in NZ Marketing when asked whether it would be willing to potentially cannibalise its existing subscription revenue by offering a cheaper online-only service, Sky said last year: “No, not at this time. [SkyGo] is an added value product for our customers. But we’re always evolving”.

The All Blacks have more than 2.5 million fans on Facebook and New Zealand Rugby conducted an experiment last year when it broadcast two tests live on YouTube in countries where the rights hadn’t been allocated exclusively to a broadcaster. It was pleasantly surprised with the results and we understand both games attracted over 100,000 views.

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