If you are planning on watching the Rugby World Cup this year, you may have to change the way you watch rugby.
The rights to broadcast the tournament in September and October this year have been bought by Spark Sport and, as a result, most games will have to be streamed via the internet.
While the Rugby World Cup does not start until September, rural rugby fans are being advised to check out their broadband now if they want to live stream the games.
Spark corporate relations partner Anaru Tuhi said “the general rule of thumb” was if you could reliably use other streaming services like Youtube or Netflix at peak hours (8pm to 9pm) on the device you plan to watch the rugby on, you should have no issues streaming the Rugby World Cup.
Spark Sport came under fire recently when users had technical issues while streaming Formula 1, but Mr Tuhi said it was natural for a three-month-old platform to have teething issues.
“The platform has already streamed around 4680 hours of content – all but a handful of the live events have run completely smoothly,” Mr Tuhi said.
If there was a major problem with Spark Sport during a game, the company had the ability to transfer the live coverage to TVNZ, although it was not clear how widespread the problem would have to be to force the change.
“Suffice to say that the kind of things that would trigger a switch-over include loss of live match play platform-wide or a major regional internet service provider outage,” Mr Tuhi said.
“If Spark Sport notifies TVNZ that it wishes to transfer a game to live TVNZ coverage, it will be live on TVNZ in minutes.”
InternetNZ engagement director Andrew Cushen said the one of the big challenges for Spark was hundreds of thousands of people streaming the same thing at the same time.
“Spark is designing for that now though, as they are able to predict just how many New Zealanders will want to watch,” he said.
“There is huge potential in this technology, and what we’re seeing here is a new entrant in live sports that is shaking things up and trying new things.
“That’s beneficial for us as New Zealanders, as it leads to competition and innovation.
“If this works, then this could change the way we all watch sport and other live events – and the potential is huge.”
Kurow Hotel publican Ross Paton is expecting good business in September and October, as many people in the area would not have access to internet that was capable of reliably streaming the Rugby World Cup.
Japan was also only three hours behind New Zealand time, so the games would be played at a reasonable time for locals to watch, he said.
He said one advantage of Spark’s coverage of the event was that it was the same cost for businesses as it was for personal use.
“If there is rugby on, we will be playing it.”
Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) is being installed in Kurow at present and will be finished and ready for customers to start connecting to by the end of June.
Chorus spokesman Nathan Beaumont said some 235 Kurow properties would be able to connect to UFB.
Waitaki Libraries reference and digital services librarian Debbie Price-Ewan said the Rugby World Cup was a good starting point for a wider conversation about digital literacy.
“These days, people who are digitally literate are better off financially – they are aware of better deals faster than people who are not using the internet regularly.”
Mrs Price-Ewan said a lot of people who had got stuck with a technological issue came to the Oamaru Public Library for assistance.
The library was already running courses to advance computer literacy, but could also help with some specific problems.
“We are a source of information, so if people have questions, they are welcome to come and ask them.
“We might be able to find a resource for them, or answer their questions at the desk straight away.”
Streaming the Rugby World Cup – What you need to know
What is streaming?
Streaming is basically watching videos online. Rather than download the data and watch it later, streaming displays the content as it loads. Think of it as watching something on TV as opposed to a DVD.
Will all the Rugby World Cup games be streamed, and will I be able to watch it on normal TV?
All the games will be streamed online, but the seven All Blacks games will be available free-to-air on TVNZ.
How do I do it?
To watch the all the Rugby World Cup games, you must be connected to the internet. Download the Spark Sport app on your device, and follow the instructions to buy a “tournament pass”.
Does this mean I have to watch the games on my computer or phone?
You can, but obviously it is better to watch sport on the big screen. If you don’t have a Smart TV, you can get a Google Chromecast or anything that plays content from your device on to your TV.
Do I have to be signed up to Spark internet?
No, you can be signed up to any internet provider.
Do I need to have fast internet?
To a point, yes. Spark says you need a download speed of six Mbps on a mobile or tablet, and 15 Mbps download speed on a Smart TV to reliably stream the content. You can test your internet speed by going to speedtest.net/. You can also sign up to Spark Sport for a one month free trial, which is probably a good idea if you are unsure whether or not it will work in your home.
How can I improve my internet?
It depends where you are. To check whether you can upgrade the speed of your internet, check with your internet provider. Entering your address at broadbandmap.nz or chorus.co.nz is a quick way to find out if you have any options.
How do I watch the Rugby World Cup if I don’t have fast internet or any internet?
Apart from the games that are free to air, it will be a trip back to the ’70s. Most local pubs will have it on, or find someone who has a reliable stream.
What happens if something goes wrong during a game, and the service crashes?
This is a tricky one. Spark has an arrangement with TVNZ that if there is a major problem, it will be able to switch the coverage over to TVNZ within minutes. However, it is not clear at this stage how this will help if there is a more isolated problem.