Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Rugby Now

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  • Tom Semmens,

    When you give up Sky, rugby ceases to exist. A huge section of the population won't even notice the Lions and, thanks to the NZRFU seeming to think the game is safe with the dying Sky business model, care even less a few months after they sent the decoder back.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2210 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    thanks to the NZRFU seeming to think the game is safe with the dying Sky business model

    I don't think the NZRU thinks that. They're contracted into the present deal until 2019, so the action starts next year. The chair of its board is former Mediaworks CEO Brent Impey, who I am very sure has been exploring the options already.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    When you give up Sky, rugby ceases to exist.

    True that. Unless you’re a pub regular (I’m not) you just don’t see it. The only games I see are the (very few) games I point one of many cameras at. And from behind the scenes, it’s evident Sky drop massive $$ on rugby coverage.
    Big teams of broadcasters flying around the country, staying in hotels, renting cars, plus local crews. You could, these days – or even with older technology – cover the games for a lot less (NPC games get seriously less resource than SuperWoteva and tests get all the bells and whistles.)
    Sky are committed to rugby – it’s clearly their most important asset in NZ, and they’d be lost without it. The question will be whether the money it makes them is enough to keep paying both the RFU and production costs. I suspect that's a close-run thing.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2088 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Russell, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I have been whinging loudly about the decision to cancel the daily Fanpass service. That was great - pay your $15 to watch a rugby or cricket match, no ongoing commitment to 75 channels of dross which I just don't want and won't pay for. A great way to get to casual fans who are unable or unwilling to take up a full subscription. Obviously it was too good to last. Sky seem to want all or nothing from viewers. How's that working out for them?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • TurtsPaulTaylor,

    I was going to post some kind thoughtful response but I've defaulted to saying how excited I am for the Lions Tour. In a few weeks, my son and I are having what I think will be the best day of rugby on the planet this year: The Kings / Grammar first VX match followed by The Lions V NZ Maori at Rotorua International Stadium. I'm also looking forward to reading Dylan Cleavers book, sounds fascinating.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2015 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • John Palethorpe,

    Since Sky decided to double the monthly FanPass cost and treat its modern customer base like dicks I've not watched a game.

    Fortunately I've reacquainted myself with live sport on the radio; leaning in towards the speaker as it gets close and enduring some of the terrible banter that gets thrown about during the less interesting parts.

    Cleaver's piece highlights the overbearing role the ABs play in rugby, sucking up all the sponsorship and providing the game as a consumable product which replaces the grassroots involvement in the game.

    That's affecting SR teams too, almost none of which fill their AB test designed caverns of stadia, meaning its hard to get an atmosphere going.

    That's before you get to the inconvenient point that if 2011 was 'knocking the bastard off' for NZR, the subsequent dominance, and packaging and promotion of that dominance, has turned the All Blacks into the bastard that others try to knock off. The narrative of an uber dominant team that keeps winning isn't exactly a traditional sporting story. I wonder about that.

    I've got two Test tickets for the Lions and one for the Blues v Lions game, but that's down to having watched every tour since '97. It's once every 12 years, so its worth the expense this time out. I can save up for the next tour.

    Auckland • Since May 2015 • 83 posts Report Reply

  • billtaylor,

    I gave up going to live games two or thee years ago when I went with my English in-laws to a game at Eden Park -- the Blues v someone. It was expensive, the alcohol was also ridiculously expensive and the food limited and also expensive. And the stupid blaring music and inconsiderate people standing up and spoiling my view means that I'd rather stay home and watch on Sky -- even though that's not cheap. Parking was also not cheap and we had a long walk.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2017 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Tickets for Lions games are rather too expensive so we will watch it on Sky--along with the SoHo channel, the reason why we stick with it.
    I just hope that there will be as spectacular an encounter as the Maori All Blacks game of the last Lions tour.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2537 posts Report Reply

  • Allan Moyle,

    I used to have season tickets in Hamilton up until 2005 before the Chiefs were considered contenders. Watched 2-3 games on Sky each week. Scroll forward 12 years and my live rugby fix is typically 5 or 6 games of Auckland club rugby and 1 AB game at Eden Park.
    Club rugby is great, you're close to the action, it's without any of the accoutrements of modern stadia rugby, you still the sense a passion for playing and it's free.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to billtaylor,

    I gave up going to live games two or thee years ago when I went with my English in-laws to a game at Eden Park – the Blues v someone. It was expensive, the alcohol was also ridiculously expensive and the food limited and also expensive.

    Yeah, like I said, I ended up as pissed off by the standard of the event as the standard of the rugby. It just said nothing about about Auckland – because, it seemed to me, the Blues board was hopeless and detached. I hope it's improved now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Hugh Wilson,

    I can remember seeing Sean Fitzpatrick out for a Sunday drive on our little dead end street around 1989 or 1990 – he was in his blue builders ute, which I suspect was dispensed with (along with the carpentry career) soon afterwards. I can also remember school boy stakes being upped in the early to mid 1990’s, with names like Andrew Blowers and Jonah Lomu getting whispered about, and the private schools suddenly having more Polynesian players in the mix . My secondary school was somewhat of an All Black factory, and I recall a first XV trail game where the hulking form of Isitola Maka broke through the line running towards me and a couple of others – no one was game enough to try tackle him (and I didn’t make the team either). Meanwhile back in the 3B’s (and 3C’s the year before that), I was playing alongside Finau Maka who captained Tonga at the 2008 WC (think thats right), and Xavier Rush who captained the Blues to their last Super rugby title. Still got my ‘most improved player’ trophy, not that I progressed anywhere sporting wise .. With a bit of hindsight lots of players had relatively short periods at the top, and things have become even tougher since.

    Its been good to see Super Rugby visiting the Pacific a couple of times this season, but its also a reminder that the games commercial growth hasn’t been as inclusive as it might of been. Here in Aust the game seems to be in bit of a shambles, and its a rare occurrence indeed to encounter a local fan, which isn’t the most encouraging for the future – endless winning is nice, but also makes things less interesting. I’ve been to a few Super games at AAMI park, which is great for viewing games being rectangular, but concur with the earlier comment that the relentless and booming mix of music & announcements makes you wonder why you bothered.

    Will be watching the Lions, and hopefully theres some cracking games to come.

    Melbourne • Since Feb 2013 • 164 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to John Palethorpe,

    Cleaver’s piece highlights the overbearing role the ABs play in rugby, sucking up all the sponsorship and providing the game as a consumable product which replaces the grassroots involvement in the game.

    That’s affecting SR teams too, almost none of which fill their AB test designed caverns of stadia, meaning its hard to get an atmosphere going.

    Yeah, true. Otoh, it is the All Blacks that represent most of the value in the broadcast deal. Fingers crossed we enter a new era in 2019. I assume Spark will be doing its numbers on bidding for one or more tiers of the game.

    And, oh, wouldn't it be great to have a compact, single-purpose 25,000-capacity rugby ground in Auckland?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hugh Wilson,

    Its been good to see Super Rugby visiting the Pacific a couple of times this season

    The great atmosphere at that Chiefs-Crusaders game in Suva was apparent even on the TV coverage.

    the relentless and booming mix of music & announcements makes you wonder why you bothered.

    It could be so much better.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    so we will watch it on Sky–along with the SoHo channel, the reason why we stick with it

    Game of Throw-ins!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7876 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Ram,

    One option to access rugby at a better price. Approx $200 for 12 months.

    1/ Get a VPN account (eg www.tunnelbear.com) and sign up for the unlimited package. Set it to Hong Kong.

    2/ Get a RugbyPass account. Use your NZ credit card and find a Hong Kong address. I used a hotel address.

    Time for kickoff. The site's a bit rubbish, but it works and the picture looks great.

    Since Mar 2008 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I don’t think the NZRU thinks that. They’re contracted into the present deal until 2019, so the action starts next year. The chair of its board is former Mediaworks CEO Brent Impey, who I am very sure has been exploring the options already.

    I am not sure if the NZRFU can afford to wait until 2020 to ditch Sky. There was a story the other day that that the “average” household will soon be consuming 1TB of data a month, and if the anecdotal evidence of my peer group is any guide the slide away from Sky in favour of increased broadband based services is turning into an avalanche.

    Sky hasn’t got the faintest idea of any of this – as other commentators have noted their whole (mediocre) broadcasting culture and package is firmly rooted in a half-arsed, half-remembered pastiche of 1990s New Zealand. I used to watch a lot of rugby, but once I got rid of Sky I hardly even care anymore. I very occassionally watch a bit of AFL on freeview, the huge crowds and the belief from everyone involved they are doing something important, interesting and of high drama couldn’t contrast more with the empty stadiums, cliche riven, bored sounding coaches, and the calling-it-in old men and has-been commentators that Sky put up. Sky is far to cosy and the whole rugby circus from Sky to the snivelling, sycophantic Tony Veitch is a circle jerk of untalented white male assholes.

    The other day a mate and I watched the World of Tanks e-sports EU/RU grand finals on twitch, it was great – the prize pool is 3.5 million US so the top teams are all pro players, and the production values are fantastic. best of all, it is a game I play so I could relate to what was going on. A couple of times I yelled at screen, something I haven’t done to a rugby for a long time.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2210 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    I saw on One News last night that the Lions touring party expanded to include 4 extra players at an additional cost of $1m. On that basis the overall cost of the touring party must be in excess of $10m.

    It doesn't make me feel any better but does go some way to explaining why my Sky subscription costs so much.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    +1

    I think at the end of this winter I'll be ditching my Sky subscription and joining the local bowling club so I have somewhere to go to watch the odd game.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    For me the problem isn't Sky, although I can see how restricting viewing based on wealth is a good way to reduce passion about a sport.

    For me the problem is, I find rugby boring now. Part of it is too much rugby. Part of it is the utterly ridiculous dominance of rugby reporting, we could have 10 world champs in a day but the lead story is some rugby player sprained his ankle or got married or got drunk.

    But also the game is different now. I used to watch passionately, I used to follow the ebb and flow of the game, I used to know who the players and teams were and what their weaknesses and strengths were - but for some reason the game doesn't engage me now. When I put a game on the big screen I end up wandering off to do something else. The game itself feels clumsy and disjointed.

    Beats me why.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Hugh Wilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And, oh, wouldn't it be great to have a compact, single-purpose 25,000-capacity rugby ground in Auckland?

    It certainly would - Eden Park, despite all of its history, clearly has an average at best configuration for watching rugby (and thats being kind). Smaller to mid size stadia have an important role to play as few games will attract 40K+, and Dunedin's Forsyth Barr is the biggest success in this regard of recent years. That said, Melbourne's AAMI park seems to have been deemed too small at ~25k for the All Blacks, leading to the odd game being played at the MCG where binoculars are needed to see whats happening. The MCG at night also resembles the inside of ones fridge over the late May-September period.

    Melbourne • Since Feb 2013 • 164 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Hugh Wilson,

    And the Waikato Stadium?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2537 posts Report Reply

  • Hugh Wilson, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    I've never been, but it certainly looks average on the tele when the heavens open

    Melbourne • Since Feb 2013 • 164 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The loss of passion for me began with the reduction of the provincial championship to a second rate feeder comp for the five professional teams. Even though the super rugby teams have been around for 21 years now, they have never really commanded the sort of fanatical parochial passion that the provinces did/have. I spent many a provincial match yelling at the screen, peeking from behind a cushion and moving around the living room from couch to chair to doorway to floor in the agony of a close match. My province’s fortunes were a more important barometer of the success of the rugby season than the All Black win/loss record.

    The loss of that parochial passion is why IMHO the stadiums now stay stubbornly empty. It is the missing X factor that is present in the AFL and NRL as famous clubs, from somewhere real and steeped in history, battle it out in front of crowds who show absolute in-group loyalty to their suburban team. That has gone from NZ rugby now.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2210 posts Report Reply

  • Rickai, in reply to Russell Brown,

    When the current NZRU deal with SKY is up, my bet is on internet providers gaining the rights to some or all All Blacks games. Maybe the NZRU will split up the product - Tri Nations to one, end-of-year tour to another, with Lions and RWC negotiated as well.

    Since Jan 2007 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • dave stewart,

    See also Brian Rudman's opinion piece in the Herald related to this yesterday:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11866160.
    One assertion he makes I believe is accurate: that limiting TV sports coverage to pay-to-view results in a smaller audience than if it were free. When Sky doesn't even offer one-off streaming options for major events (e.g. test matches) lots of us who might have watched test matches find other pastimes.
    I also think this has got to be having an impact at kids level. If you grow up in a family without Sky, what opportunity do you have to witness rugby test matches? Delayed coverage on Prime is either after kids' bedtime or sometime the next day (not quite the same excitement). Certainly not as accessible as live at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.
    When I was a nipper rugby was way more popular than other Saturday morning team sports. Having recently taken our own kids to Saturday morning rugby & soccer, it is obvious that soccer is now way more popular than rugby for youngsters. This bodes well for the future of soccer in NZ.

    Since Aug 2014 • 37 posts Report Reply

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