Spark and TVNZ have won the rights to broadcast the 2019 Rugby World Cup. While some games will be shown on free-to-air old school television, fans will need to pay a fee to watch Spark’s streaming coverage.

The two companies confirmed their bid won the New Zealand television rights in a joint media release on Monday. 

Spark managing director Simon Moutter says both the free and paid games will be available to all New Zealanders – not just Spark customers. 

The tournament is taking place in Japan, so is likely to be covered using 4K technology and may even include some 8K coverage. This could see a surge in demand for television hardware able to make use of higher definition pictures. It’s also likely to mean more demand for fibre connections. 

While some rural customers may not be able to stream the games, the number is likely to be only a few percent of the total population. 

By the time the Rugby World Cup kicks off the first phase of the nationwide UFB fibre roll out will be complete and the subsequent fibre build will be well under way. At least 80 percent of the population will have the ability to connect. Most of the remainder will either have access to Rural Broadband Initiative wireless towers or copper-fed VDSL connections. Some will be covered by wireless internet service providers or wisps. 

Interviewed on Radio New Zealand, Moutter says the price will be lower than most people would expect. He says a tournament pass would cost somewhere in the region of $100. It will also be possible to subscribe to watch individual games. 

Fans will be able to watch on television sets but can choose to use most popular digital devices include computers, tablets and phones. Spark will offer a downloadable app. Games will be broadcast live, but there will also be a catalogue of on-demand games. 

The 2019 Rugby World Cup is the jewel, but the package Spark and TVNZ purchased includes the 2021 Women’s World Cup, the 2018 World Cup Sevens and 2018 and ’19 World Rugby U20 Championships.

TVNZ says it will screen seven 2019 Rugby World Cup matches live on its free to air service. These will include the opening match and the final. It also says it will not show advertisements during game time.