Spark Sport pins profits on Rugby World Cup

Spark Sport is hoping to attract half a million users to watch the Rugby World Cup over its streaming service, and says its future profitability will depend on its ability to hold on to them afterwards.

Head of Spark Sport Jeff Latch said the tournament was a "catalyst for change" to encourage New Zealanders to use streaming services, and it planned to build off that.

Spark beat Sky TV to the rights to the tournament, which is being staged in Japan, and is streaming games over various platforms, while TVNZ will also broadcast various matches.

"If you ever wanted an event to pull people into streaming, particularly those people that are a bit late coming into it, then this [the Rugby World Cup] is the opportunity to do so," Mr Latch said.

"We do this well, and we are really confident that we will, then that is actually going to say to people, 'wow, that is absolutely where the future is heading in terms of sports delivery'."

Spark was preparing for 500,000 users to connect to the streaming service at the peak of the Rugby World Cup.

"We are really hopeful that a large number of those people stick with us. That is where we are really seeing opportunity."

Spark was in talks to buy more top-level sport broadcast rights, including for cricket and rugby, and would ramp up local production next year, including creating their own sports commentary and analysis programmes.

It already has English Premier League football, basketball, and motorsport in its offering.

"We are going to make things a lot better. We are not modelling ourselves off Sky [Television]."

Mr Latch would not detail the budget for Spark Sport.

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